New Proposal for Long-Awaited 'Heritage Square South' Goes Before Council Monday

Published : Monday, December 17, 2018 | 5:52 AM

The City of Pasadena’s Department of Housing and Career Services will seek direction Monday from the City Council about plans for the long-awaited Heritage Square South development, part of the City’s Heritage Square property, a 2.8-acre block of parcels bounded by Fair Oaks Avenue on the west, Painter Street on the north, Orange Grove Boulevard on the south, and Wheeler Lane on the east.

Chances are that the site, as indicated in a report by the Department of Housing, would probably be developed primarily as a permanent support housing project for seniors, similar to the adjoining Heritage Square Senior Apartments, a 70-unit affordable rental complex for very low-income seniors, which opened on the property in March 2017.

Developing the entire Heritage Square site has been on the drawing board since 2001, and it was only in 2010 when the City decided to develop the north portion into the Heritage Square Senior Apartments.

Development of the south portion, an area about 1.3 acres in size and designated as Heritage Square South, was halted because of the dissolution of redevelopment in 2012 and the loss of redevelopment money.

In 2013, the state designated the site as a housing asset of the City Housing Successor, and as such, development, primarily for affordable housing, must commence by the end of February 2023. Otherwise, the site must be sold through the City’s surplus disposition process, and the sale proceeds returned to the Housing Successor’s Low and Moderate Income Housing Asset Fund.

On Monday, the Housing Department will present mixed-use alternatives for Heritage South to the City Council, in order to seek direction on which alternative to pursue further.

An Agenda Report prepared by the Housing Department showed they had explored six possible land-use options. Of these, a concept of developing the site with 65 to 70 residential units and 10,000 to 15,000 square feet of commercial space was generally favored during a meeting of the Economic Development and Technology Committee in July, the report said.

Under the concept, the development would include a residential component with two floors of affordable housing above the commercial space, and possibly an adjacent three-story residential building. A particular housing type was not identified in the EDTech Committee meeting, although much of the discussion focused on full or partial permanent supportive housing, with a focus on housing for homeless seniors.

A combination of surface and subterranean parking is also part of the concept.

For Monday’s meeting, the City Council is being asked to identify which development concept for Heritage Square South the City should pursue, and to decide whether the designation of the affordable housing component should be in full or in part permanent supportive housing.

Several Pasadena residents have sent their comments about the Heritage Square South site, with many of them favoring a housing for seniors concept.

Lorinda Hawkins Smith in Northwest Pasadena stressed the fact that Pasadena’s homeless senior rate has increased by 58 percent in the last three years, and that the City should make sure seniors are affordably housed.

Hawkins also opposed a plan to adopt a policy that would restrict the development of affordable housing in Northwest Pasadena due to overconcentration, saying the area needs more, not less, affordable housing to prevent increasing homelessness and displacement of long-term residents.

Peggy Craik, a retired public school teacher, wrote in to say she’s very pleased to hear about plans to create up to 70 permanent supportive housing for homeless seniors on the site.

“This proposal could make a big difference for people who otherwise might be forced to live their last days on the street,” Craik wrote.

Letters circulated among residents and sent to City Clerk Mark Jomsky also called on Mayor Terry Tornek and the City Council members to act quickly on the proposal to use the vacant Heritage Square South site and build affordable housing units for seniors.

Following the City Council’s direction, the Housing Department will return at a later date to present business terms, a financing plan, and a developer selection plan.

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