By Dees Stribling, Contributing Editor
Los Angeles—Nonprofit affordable housing developer Abode Communities and Trust South LA, a community land trust, have acquired Rolland Curtis Gardens on West 38th Street in Los Angeles. The location is unusual for an affordable housing property in that it’s near the new Expo/Vermont light rail station.
According to the buyers, transit is distinctly important low-income families, whose parents often to hold multiple jobs to make ends meet. Living across from the Metro line gives them easy access to transportation.
Abode Communities and Trust South LA closed the deal using loans from Wells Fargo Bank and the California Community Foundation’s Community Foundation Land Trust. The two organizations also invested $1.8 million toward the acquisition using grants provided by the Weingart Foundation, Rose Hills Foundation and the Ahmanson Foundation. Abode Communities contributed a $1.5 million loan from its Housing Fund, which was awarded to the nonprofit by the U.S. Treasury’s Capital Magnet Fund using federal stimulus dollars.
Built in 1981 with funding from HUD, a private investor bought Rolland Curtis Gardens in 2004. The property was initially protected from conversion to market-rate rents by an affordable housing covenant, but that expired in early 2011. When the owner opted to change the complex’s use to market-rate student housing, Trust South LA began organizing the residents to prevent the building’s conversion. Eventually, after a long process, the nonprofits were able to buy the property.
The new owners plans to develop an additional 50 to 100 affordable housing rental units on the 2.3-acre site. Planning for the future development, with participation from residents, will begin in late 2012 or early 2013, according to Abode Communities and Trust South LA.
“Incorporating 100 percent affordable housing into TOD is a rare opportunity, because when transit comes into a neighborhood it generally attracts market-rate development,” Robin Hughes, CEO and executive director of Abode Communities, tells MHN. “This drives up the cost of land, making it cost-prohibitive to develop affordable housing at major transit stop.”