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Council to Vote on Entering Exclusive Negotiations for Affordable Housing Across From City Hall

Developer wants to build 112 units at site

Published on Monday, October 19, 2020 | 1:00 am
The site (marked in red above) is directly across from the northern section of Pasadena City Hall.

The City Council will vote on entering into exclusive negotiations agreement with a developer for affordable housing at one of two sought-after sites.

According to a staff report, the city would work with National Community Renaissance of California in connection with 280 N. Ramona St., a vacant lot that was once considered for a Water and Power Department building. 

The property is frequently discussed with efforts to develop the site of the famed Julia Morgan YWCA building, located nearby at Holly Street and North Marengo Avenue.

“Based on staff’s and KMA’s review, staff recommends that the City enter into exclusive negotiations with National Community Renaissance of California (NCRC) based on the comparative strength of this developer’s proposal,” according to a city staff report.

According to its proposal, National Community Renaissance of California, is offering a 112-unit senior housing project in a five-level building, with 50 on-site parking spaces. Forty-nine percent of the units would be for very low-income residents.

If the council approves the recommendation, the initial negotiation period would last six months. The city manager has the discretion to increase the negotiation period by two six-month extensions. 

The developer would be required to submit documentation on its development team, financial capacity, and other disclosures as may be required by the city. 

Conditions of the project transaction, including the disposition of the property, environmental requirements, project concept, scope of development, schedule of performance, financing plan, city financial assistance, city policies and regulations, and other items would be laid out in a development agreement between NCRC and the city.  

The negotiated development agreement will be brought back to the City Council for approval. 

The developer has an existing relationship with the city.

NCRC develops and manages Pasadena’s Marv’s Place, a 20-unit permanent supportive housing project for families named in honor of Marvin Gross, former head of Union Station Homeless Services. 

NCRC and their service provider partner, Union Station, have helped the tenant households, who were all formerly homeless, stabilize their lives and make significant progress in the area of employment. Those efforts have led to an increase in household income, decreasing the level of rental subsidies. 

One of the largest nonprofit affordable housing development corporations in the country, with a portfolio of nearly 9,000 affordable apartments in five states, NCRC has been responsive to tenants, neighbors, and the city when questions or issues have arisen.

The recommendation comes just less than a month after local residents and the city’s Planning Department heard proposals from five developers to re-imagine the two sites in Centennial Plaza. 

The plans were presented in a “virtual community forum” Zoom meeting moderated by Planning Department Director David Reyes a full 10 years after the city obtained the sites by eminent domain. 

The city originally issued a request for proposal (RFP) for the rehabilitation and adaptive reuse of the former YWCA building, at 78 N. Marengo Ave. But, in 2020, as the city was proceeding with the RFP, a state law related to affordable housing compelled the city to pause the process and issue a notice of availability (NOA) to a broader set of affordable housing developers, thus opening the door to possible hotel development. 

In April of 2017, the City Council shot down a plan by Kimpton Hotels for a luxury boutique hotel project in the Civic Center, after the developers asked for an economic subsidy plan to provide 50 years of free rent along with 136 city-owned parking spaces for the duration of the entire lease to the developers in order for them to continue with the project.

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