Nonprofit JV Breaks Ground on San Francisco-Area Affordable Community

The City of Oakland provided the land for the project that's part of a multi-phase transit-oriented development.
Casa Sueños. Image courtesy of SVA Architects

A partnership between nonprofits The Unity Council and BRIDGE Housing has broken ground on Casa Sueños, a 181-unit affordable community in Oakland, Calif.

The City of Oakland provided the land for the co-developers, through a 66-year ground lease, according to Yardi Matrix. SVA Architects will handle the design, while J.H. Fitzmaurice will serve as general contractor. The community is expected to come online in the fall of 2023.

The project will take shape at 3511 E. 12th St. within an Opportunity Zone, next to the Fruitvale Bay Area Rapid Transit station. Casa Sueños will provide studios as well as one, two- and three-bedroom apartments.

The property will be fully affordable, with 46 units set aside as supportive housing, available for residents earning 20 percent of Area Median Income; 29 apartments set aside for those earning 50 percent AMI; 94 units serving those who make 60 percent AMI; and 10 for households earning up to 80 percent AMI. Two units will be reserved for on-site management staff.

The community will also include 7,500 square feet of ground-floor retail space. Casa Sueños will provide supportive services offered by Lifelong Medical Care through financing by Alameda County.

The mixed-income community is the third phase of The Unity Council’s Fruitvale Transit Village, a mixed-income and transit-oriented development that has retail and office as well as residential components. The property is within walking distance of several shopping and dining options. Downtown Oakland is less than 5 miles northwest of the community, while downtown San Francisco is 15 miles away.

Funding the development

In 2020, the State of California Strategic Growth Council awarded a nearly $30 million grant for the development through its Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities (AHSC) program.

The California Municipal Finance Authority financed an $89.8 million senior loan, later purchased by Freddie Mac, while the City of Oakland provided a financial package totaling $20.2 million, according to Alameda County records.

Additional financiers include Oakland Housing Authority, Alameda County, California Tax Credit Allocation Committee, California Debt Limit Allocation Committee, Lument as well as JPMorgan Chase.

Both developers have a history of building affordable housing. In 2019, The Unity Council in partnership with EBALDC completed Casa Arabella, a 94-unit property within Fruitvale Transit Village. The name of the community celebrates Arabella Martinez, the founder of The Unity Council. In May of this year, BRIDGE Housing welcomed residents at its 61-unit affordable community in Portland, Ore.