Rendering courtesy of Affirmed Housing.
The Orchard at Hilltop will have 113 affordable apartments with completion estimated for early summer 2022.

Rendering courtesy of Affirmed Housing. The Orchard at Hilltop will have 113 affordable apartments with completion estimated for early summer 2022.

Construction is scheduled to start in January on a $55 million Encanto affordable housing apartment project that will share a 9.4-acre site with a market rate development of single-family homes and townhomes.

The project will include restoration of an arroyo that covers about 1.2 acres of the site and divides the property at the corner of Euclid Avenue and Hilltop Drive.

The affordable housing portion of the project will be on the east side of the property and the market rate housing on the west side.

Affirmed Housing, the master developer of the site, also will connect two portions of Hilltop Drive through the site and is the builder of the affordable housing portion of the project.

Off-site infrastructure improvements include widening Euclid Avenue, planting a median parkway, installing traffic signals and building new curbs, sidewalks and street gutters.

Grading of the entire site started in October. Completion of the affordable housing portion of the project is scheduled for early summer 2022.

A Bit of Everything

Ito Girard & Associates and La Jolla MJ Management are building the market-rate housing, named Hilltop Crossing, with groundbreaking scheduled for spring 2021.

Affirmed Housing was chosen by the city as the master developer in response to a request for proposals from the San Diego Housing Commission.

The project “really provides a little bit of everything” and will be a model of public/private housing developments, said Jimmy Silverwood, executive vice president of Affirmed Housing.

Studio E Architects is the architect for the affordable housing portion of the project and HA Builders, an affiliate of Affirmed Housing, is the general contractor.

Compass for Affordable Housing will provide social services to residents of the affordable housing apartments.

The market rate portion of the project will include 20 single-family homes and 27 townhomes in a mix of two-story and three-story structures.

Bigger Apartments

Named The Orchard at Hilltop, the affordable housing portion of the project will consist of 113 apartments in two, four-story buildings and one three-story building on about 3.5 acres of the site, said Jonathan Taylor, Affirmed Housing project manager.

“They will be made available to households earning between 30% and 60% of the area median income,” Taylor said.

The affordable housing is unusual because of the size of the apartments, with 37 two-story bedrooms averaging 800 square feet, 21 three-bedroom apartments averaging 1,100 square feet and 18-four-bedroom apartments averaging 1,400 square feet.

The three-bedroom and four-bedroom apartments will have two bathrooms.

Typically, affordable housing projects are predominantly studio and one-bedroom apartments with one bathroom.

“The large unit sizes are a result of listening to the community and hearing about what they want and what their needs are,” Taylor said. “They were looking for apartments with a high bedroom count in order to house large families with numerous children as well as multi-generational families.”

Monthly rents will range from $470 to $1,470, Taylor said.

Every apartment will have either a patio or a balcony.

Outdoor Dining

The affordable housing project also will have about 8,000 square feet of commercial space.

“The space is envisioned as a type of food and retail hall,” Taylor said. “It will have multiple tenants,” adding that it will include “an expansive outdoor patio space for outdoor dining.”

The affordable housing building facades will be stucco with wood siding, Taylor said.

The project will include murals by local artists throughout the property.

Community amenities will include a half-court for basketball, a tot lot/playground, barbecue areas, a clubhouse with a community kitchen, a computer lab, a learning center for school-aged residents and several courtyards.

“Zoning would allow us to build even more units. However, in response to community input, we intentionally kept the buildings shorter than they had to be and we retained more open space than was required,” Taylor said.

The affordable housing section will have 130 parking spaces but is considered transit friendly because it is within walking distance to a trolley stop.

“The site is a high point in the neighborhood, so the project will have views over the arroyo as well as you look south,” Taylor said.

The site, including the arroyo, was long used as a dumping ground for construction debris and trash.

“The site, when you looked at it, it looked empty. There was nothing but shrubs and trees, but buried under it was some concrete debris,” Taylor said. “The arroyo was a mess. We could see pieces of concrete and other debris-junk that had just accumulated over the years.”

Silverwood said the site had been vacant for more than 50 years and had become an eyesore.

The restored arroyo also will form a natural amenity, Taylor said.

As part of the arroyo restoration, Affirmed Housing will build a bridge connecting the two sections of the site to provide pedestrian access through the site.