A City Heights project by Serving Seniors and Chelsea Investment Corp. combines affordable housing for low-income seniors and low-income families in two buildings that share the same site at the northeast corner of El Cajon Boulevard and Fairmount Avenue.
“It was designed specifically as an intergenerational project,” said Paul Downey, CEO of Serving Seniors, a social service agency based in East Village. “It’s the way we naturally live in a community.”
The $49 million Mid-City Family Apartments will have 78 apartments.
Named for its benefactors, the adjacent $36 million Harris Senior Residence will have 117 one-bedroom apartments.
Mid-City Family Apartments at 4340 44th St. has 33 two-bedroom apartments averaging 860 square feet, 45 three-bedroom apartments averaging 1,110 square feet.
Of those, 29 of the two-bedroom apartments and 40 of the three-bedroom apartments are earmarked for families with annual incomes of no more than 60% of the area median income and three two-bedroom apartments and five of the three-bedroom apartments are earmarked for those at 50% of the area median income.
Amenities include on-site leasing offices, laundry rooms, a clubhouse with a kitchen and lounge, a tot lot, a community garden, barbecues and a pet area.
Harris Family Senior Residence at 4320 44th St. has 117 one-bedroom apartments averaging about 475 square feet, and including two one-bedroom manager’s apartments.
Of those, 99 are earmarked for families with annual incomes of no more than 60% of the area median income, nine for those at 50%, and seven for those at 40%.
Amenities include on-site leasing offices, social service offices, laundry rooms, an activities room with a kitchen and lounge, a common room with a lounge, and reading areas.
Apartments in the Harris Senior Residence are fully leased and tenants are expected to move into the building beginning in October.
Designed by Rob Wellington Quigley Architects, based in East Village, the two five-story apartment buildings share underground parking with about 100 spaces, and a 7,370-square-foot ‘town square.’
“The idea is to integrate the community, the seniors and the families together, using this nice space,” Downey said.
The project also includes some commercial space.
“It’s technically two buildings. They were financed separately, but if you look at them, they’re connected,” Downey said.
Enhancing the Neighborhood
“We believe the beauty of the project enhances the overall neighborhood, which is our goal,” said Jim Anderson, chief development officer of Chelsea Investment Corp. said.
The nearly 1.8-acre site for the project was donated by Price Philanthropies – a critical factor in being able to get financing for the project, Downey said.
“The idea for the development began with Price, then they brought on the Chelsea team as the development partner,” said James Rock, development executive with Chelsea Investment Corp.
Serving Seniors in partnership with Chelsea owns the senior housing portion of the project, Rock said, and Price Philanthropies with Chelsea owns the family portion. Price owns the commercial piece.
Serving Seniors also will provide free supportive services to tenants of both buildings.
Although the family housing and senior housing are part of the same project, there are design and color differences meant to distinguish each of them, Rock said.
The primary color palate of the family building is light green and a dark red while the senior building has a mix of brown, gray, silver and light blues, Rock said.
Where the senior housing is shaped somewhat like a horseshoe, the family building has more angles with apartments overlooking small courtyards.
Building a Community
The buildings are unusual for an affordable project “in the sense that it’s a pretty high design,” Anderson said, with “a lot of movement, a lot of angles, a lot of color.”
“You drove by this, you wouldn’t imagine that this would be an affordable building. Certainly, all the undulation creates a pretty cool streetscape,” Anderson said.
The senior housing project was named to honor the late Howard and Iris Harris and their children – Jerry, Michael, Sally, David and Richard Harris.
The Harris family has been a longtime contributor to Serving Seniors, Downey said, adding that family members also regularly volunteer with the organization.
“The family has been very supportive of Serving Seniors for two decades,” Downey said. “It’s a cumulative recognition of their support as well as the volunteer in kind (donations) they have provided.”
Richard Harris said the project that bears his family’s name “is not only a housing unit but it’s also a community.”
CEO: Paul Downey
Headquarters: East Village
Business: Nonprofit providing housing, meals and other services to seniors
Social impact: provides housing, meals, and a variety of social services to senior citizens
Notable: Serving Seniors was established in 1970 under the umbrella of Catholic Charities as a nutrition site providing lunches to disadvantaged seniors. In 2010, the organization opened its flagship Gary & Mary West Senior Wellness Center, before rebranding as Serving Seniors in 2014.
Chelsea Investment Corp.
Founder and CEO: Jim Schmid
Business: Affordable housing developer
Contact: 760-456-6000; firstname.lastname@example.org
Social impact: Chelsea Investment Corp. sponsors and supports a broad range of national and community organizations including the Boys and Girls Club of Carlsbad, Challenged Athletes Foundation, San Diego Housing Federation, Kids Included Together, Eastlake Educational Foundation, Scripps Mercy Hospital Foundation, the University of San Diego and the United Way.
Notable: Chelsea Properties (an LLC) was formed in 1984 to develop apartments and office buildings. In 1986, the company was incorporated as Chelsea Investment Corp. and narrowed its focus to affordable rental communities.