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Pleasanton Council OKs senior housing redevelopment plan

New Kottinger Gardens complex will house 185 units for low-income seniors

The Pleasanton City Council last night approved an agreement with the MidPen Housing Corporation to tear down apartment complexes at Kottinger Place and Pleasanton Gardens and replace them with new structures that will double the size with 185 units for low-income senior residents.

"This is a great project and I'm glad we're finally moving forward with it," Mayor Jerry Thorne said as the council voted unanimously to support the plan.

Under the agreement approved Tuesday, MidPen and city staff will work to seek funding for the $62.8-million project, drawing also an estimated $8.2 million from the city's affordable housing funds.

MidPen also will need to obtain approval from the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Agency, which currently owns Kottinger Place, to demolish that center.

Before construction can begin, MidPen will need to take its plans to the city Housing and Planning commissions for their approval and finally back to the City Council for a final OK.

Part of the agreement, which gives MidPen a ground lease on the two sites for 55 years, calls for the developer to implement a tenants' relocation plan during the demolition and construction periods.

The council also approved renaming the two complexes Kottinger Gardens.

There was no opposition to the project at Tuesday night's meeting where members of the Kottinger Place Redevelopment Task Force signed off on the group's redevelopment plan, which was the result of 10 years of study and planning that began Nov. 4, 2003.

The developer, MidPen, is a Foster City-based developer that is the owner and manager of more than 90 properties with 25% senior communities.

Under the agreement in Pleasanton, Mid-Pen will own, finance and manage the new Kottinger Gardens development, while the city of Pleasanton will retain ownership of the land the buildings will occupy.

The redevelopment plan calls for rebuilding the two aging, subsidized affordable housing developments with single, two, and three-story apartments for seniors to continue living independently.

Time is of the essence. Council members pointed out Tuesday that there are many applicants on waiting lists at both complexes, so many, in fact, that applications are only accepted every several years, typically for a single day.

The MidPen project calls for building 131 apartment homes on the site now occupied by Kottinger Place, and 54 where Pleasanton Gardens is now located. Tenants, who range in age well into their 90s, will be able to stay in place during the reconstruction or move to temporary housing nearby at the developer's cost.

The apartments will have far more kitchen, bathroom and closet space than the units now have and will feature upgrades in electricity and plumbing, and perhaps most important for its elderly residents, air conditioning.

Some of the buildings on what is now the Kottinger Place site will be two stories in height with a few rising to three stories, with elevators. Also, with a single management team, social services and other senior-focused amenities should be better and more efficient.

The new plan for rebuilding the two senior facilities is mercifully different and better than earlier proposals that called for closing Pleasanton Gardens and selling the site and building a multi-story, high density apartment building to replace the cottages at Kottinger Place.

Assistant City Manager Steve Bocian, who joined task force members in meeting with neighbors of the two developments, won praise at Tuesday's council meeting for championing the project with detailed explanations about the plans, security issues and other concerns that gained everyone's support.

Even with the council's approval, there's still much work to be done before demolition of the existing buildings and actual construction can begin. In addition to HUD issues and various city commission approvals, the plan also must gain environmental approvals. It's likely that construction won't begin before March 2015.

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