By Jeffrey Steele, Contributing Writer
Los Angeles—The East Los Angeles enclave of Boyle Heights welcomed a new affordable housing development with the grand opening of Lorena Heights Apartments on March 7, 2012. Developed by The Michaels Organization and non-profit development partner LINC Housing, designed by KTGY Group and built by CMSI/Advent Companies, Lorena Heights is a $40 million community featuring 112 two- and three-bedroom apartments in a pairing of four-story contemporary buildings.
Lorena Heights is available to families earning 30 to 60 percent of Area Median Income (AMI) in Los Angeles County, as defined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Boyle Heights residents have responded enthusiastically to the development, with more than 800 people submitting applications to live in the urban infill apartment community.
“Given that we have leased 100 units in 45 days, and that 100 percent of our residents are from Boyle Heights, this speaks volumes about what Lorena Heights means for the neighborhood,” Michaels Development Company vice president of development David Lukens tells MHN.
Lorena Heights Apartments is situated on a 2.62-acre parcel of hillside real estate, with views of the Hollywood Hills and easy access to major highways and public transportation. Its common amenities include a picnic area, playground, community recreation center featuring the restored exterior of a landmark house of worship that once stood on the parcel, and a below-grade parking garage.
Lorena Heights residents will be able to take advantage of on-site supportive services, including an after-school program administered by LINC Housing’s resident service department, LINC Cares. Expert property management is to be provided by Interstate Realty Management, a sister company of Michaels Development, helping ensure Lorena Heights remains a community asset.
At the grand opening, a number of dignitaries spoke about the critical need for affordable housing developments like Lorena Heights Apartments. Among them was Los Angeles 14th District councilmember Jose Huizar, a native of Boyle Heights who grew up a stone’s throw from the new apartment community.
“The Lorena Heights Apartments are a welcome addition that will help serve the Boyle Heights community,” he said. “This new housing complex brought 75 jobs to the local community, and is part of a revitalization effort in recent years that has resulted in $2 billion in investment in Boyle Heights.”
Added Hunter L. Johnson, president and CEO of LINC Housing: “Even as the economy shows signs of recovery, we know many people still struggle. We’re pleased to see this beautiful new community become a reality for families in this area. And we’re not going anywhere. LINC Cares’ resident services will be here to help improve and enhance the lives of those who now call Lorena home.”
Lorena Heights was the beneficiary of $19.9 million of private equity financing from Bank of America Merrill Lynch raised through the sale of federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits as well as $5 million of infill infrastructure funds from the California Department of Housing and Community Development.
The California Pollution Control Finance Authority provided another $5 million. Bank of America Merrill Lynch provided $15.8 million of construction and bridge loans. Continental Mortgage Corporation provided $10 million in bridge loans. In addition, the property’s seller has provided a residual receipts note of $1.2 million.