Large affordable housing complex rises on eastern edge of Rohnert Park

An architect's map of the Parkside affordable housing complex in Rohnert Park's University District. (Pacific West Architecture via City of Rohnert Park)

Author: Kevin Fixler

Date: August 4th 2019

Published: The Press Democrat

Construction crews are hard at work on an new Rohnert Park subdivision comprised entirely of affordable homes. The apartment project in the University District is the largest affordable housing development in the city to date, one touted by City Council members as an outgrowth of efforts to meet the needs of the county’s less affluent residents.

The 218-unit Parkside project, located at the corner of Petaluma Hill Road and Keiser Avenue just north of Sonoma State University, was approved in February 2018 and will serve those in the very low- and low-income brackets based on the area’s median income.

Construction kicked off in December 2018, with at least half of the apartments set to go to individuals making about $38,000 per year, and $54,000 for families of four. The other half will be restricted to those earning no more than $60,000 annually, and $86,500 for families of four.

Rental rates will be set once the project is completed, with an anticipated date at the end of next year. The completed Parkside complex will include 141 two-bedroom, 50 three-bedroom and 27 one-bedroom units, with some expected to be made available by summer of next year.

All told, more than 1,600 single-family, market-rate homes are rising in the University District. The new affordable housing project is the result of a deal with developer Brookfield Residential as part of its plans to erect more than 1,200 of the district’s single-family homes.

Officials say The Parkside shows the city’s ongoing commitment to constructing affordable housing. Of the more than 17,000 homes in Rohnert Park, 1,055 of them are affordable units geared toward the local workforce, according to city figures.

“We’re doing it here,” said Councilwoman Susan Hollingsworth Adams. “I’ve seen other cities that haven’t had the political will to carry it out. Come on over to Rohnert Park and we’ll show you how.”

The county’s third-largest city, with 42,000 residents, expects to build more than 80 units above the housing production requirements set by the state through 2023 in the very low- and low-income categories. It will also complete well over the 484 units required at the above-moderate-income level. It expects to fall 77 units short of the moderate-income level, as well as 90 units under the extremely-low category typically intended for people transitioning out of homelessness.

Rohnert Park has more than 100 other affordable rental and for-sale housing units in the pipeline, including a 72-unit project expected to be finished in 2021 and 15 moderate-income rentals in the future downtown development. But The Parkside is seen as the most significant project in the group.

“Trying to find housing at the lower-income ranges is pretty challenging,” said Jenna Garcia, a city housing planner. “It should make a substantial difference here in Rohnert Park. It’s definitely a benefit to the community.”

The project is intended to match the look and feel of the neighborhood rather than being offset as a “low-income project” subdivision of its own, said Hollingsworth. Its proximity to the nearby middle school as well as the walking paths close to a couple elementary schools are other benefits for future residents.

The development represents Rohnert Park’s follow-through to help house the county’s local workforce, said Mayor Gina Belforte.

“It’s been a commitment to provide affordable housing since the beginning of Rohnert Park,” she said. “Affordable housing is in such dire need right now and we can’t be the only city committed to doing it. It takes not just the commitment, but actually producing it. We all have to pitch in and build housing that we can live in.”

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