Relocated, Decker House Anchors New Project That Broke Ground This Week

Published : Friday, June 7, 2019 | 5:10 AM

The landmark Decker House was halved and moved to its new siteat 1661 North Fair Oaks Avenue on May 30. At right, an artist imagines how the House will appear after refurbishment.

With the landmark Decker House halved and moved to its new site, a long-awaited affordable housing it anchors broke ground earlier this week.

The building will be the central element in a project dubbed Decker Court, which is the product of a collaboration between non-profit housing developer Heritage Housing Partners, the City of Pasadena, Mutual of Omaha Bank, Bank of America, and RAAM Construction.

The result will be a nine-unit, affordable home housing ownership development. The Decker House itself will become two, two bedroom-condominiums.

The renovation will include a new foundation, plumbing, roof, mechanical systems and more.

In the past, Heritage Housing’s Executive Director Charles Loveman has called the operation “a gut rehab” that preserves the exterior siding and windows and certain internal features.

The townhomes will be sold to qualified low-income homebuyers at approximately half their appraised value, according to RAAM Construction.

Brandt Housing & Building Movers hauled the house sections just over a mile, from 722 North Fair Oaks Avenue to 1661 North Fair Oaks Avenue, on May 30.

The move began at 10 p.m., May 30. The house, split in two parts to clear obstacles, traveled up Fair Oaks between Orange Grove Avenue and Hammond Street. There were no street closures to facilitate the operation.

During the planning phase of the project in 2016, it was estimated the move would cost $600,000.

The two-and-a-half story house is named after one of its owners, cigar store proprietor Frank Decker and his wife. It is designed in the Queen Anne style, a baroque architecture popular during said regent’s brief reign between 1702 and 1714.

The Decker House is an example of the style’s revival in the late 19th and early 20th centuries known, aptly enough, as Queen Anne-revival. The structure was built in 1892 and designated as a city landmark in 1998.

Decker Court is but half of an overall project including the adjacent Gill Court, with which it will share a driveway. Together the projects are known as Decker Gill Court

The combined Decker Gill Court will consist of 16, two-story townhomes. The project is estimated to cost $11.5 million, will be built to CAL Green standards, and utilize solar panels for energy efficiency.

The buildings are expected to be completed in May 2020.

Bill Huang, director, Pasadena City Department of Housing, called it “a cool project.”

He noted that the affordable housing crisis is not just a matter of homelessness. It affects a wider spectrum of individuals, from those who can’t afford housing at all, to those who can’t keep up with their rent, to those who can’t buy a dwelling in Pasadena.

“This project is geared towards those who would not be able to buy, if not for developments like Decker Gill Court,” said Huang. “It provides households an opportunity to invest in Pasadena, stay in Pasadena, become stakeholders in their neighborhoods, and put down roots,” said Huang.

He observed that, over the past year, Pasadena was able to buck the trend of a surging homeless population in Los Angeles County with a decrease of some 20 percent, because it is active on the affordable housing front.

Beyond the effort at Decker Gill Court, he highlighted the proposed Heritage Square development at the corner of Fair Oaks Boulevard and Orange Grove Avenue; a mixed-use affair with retail on the first floor and permanent supportive housing for homeless seniors on the second story.

“So it will not be a shelter,” Huang emphasized. “It will be permanent housing for seniors who are homeless, many of them for the first time in their lives.”

A Pasadena preference would be applied to the project, so that resident applicants are prioritized in the distribution of units.

The dwellings will be marketed in a number of ways, but Huang encouraged prospective homebuyers and renters to visit the City’s housing search website, housingsearch.com, when in the hunt for a home.

Additionally, Pasadena has three other first-time homebuyer projects in the works. The City is in the early stages of working with a nonprofit to do more permit-supportive housing for individuals. A number of inclusionary housing units are also under construction at present, according to Huang.

Purchasing a unit in Decker Gill Court starts with a potential applicant signing on to Heritage Housing Partners’ list at www.hhplist.org, according to Timothy Sales, the nonprofit’s vice president of operations.

Through the website, potential buyers can find out when Heritage Housing Partners is having workshops that will educate them on navigating the process.

The application can be downloaded from the website. “It’s basically a short form with a lot of required documentation,” explained Sales.

That application and that documentation are then sent in, by mail, to Heritage Home Partners, which runs the program.

Sales anticipates the application being released, tentatively, in the first quarter of 2020.

That, he emphasized, is not the time to be getting one’s ducks in a row. Potential buyers need to get on the list and keep an eye out for workshops that will help prepare them for the process.

The first workshop is set for July 11. Sign up on the website to find out where and at what time.

Qualifying applicants must be first-time homebuyers. Nobody in the household can have owned a home in the three years prior to applying, he explained. And there are household income ranges into which an applicant must fall in order to make the cut.

“And they must be owner-occupants,” said Sales. This not for flipping and is not a get-rich-quick scheme.”

Once the applications are released, prospective townhome owners will have between 30 and 45 days to file.

“We will work with them, review their documentation, help them qualify for a mortgage and maybe, about this time next year, we’ll start to close,” said Sales.