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Former City Heights Elementary School to be Redeveloped

REAL ESTATE: $166M Project will Transform Campus to Affordable Housing

SAN DIEGO – The former campus of Central Elementary School in City Heights will be used for a $166 million affordable housing project that would have 270 apartments for low-income to middle-income families.

Pending final approval by the San Diego Unified School District of the overall plan, a second $3 million apartment project on the site with 57 apartments for seniors, would tentatively follow construction of the family apartments under the project tentatively set to be developed by Affirmed Housing, based in Sabre Springs.

Designed by DAHLIN architecture, based in Pleasanton, the project on the 5.68-acre campus at 4063 and 4135 Polk Ave. will also include indoor and outdoor space for the Fern Street Circus performing group.

Permanent school classroom and administrative buildings on the site will be redesigned and remodeled for the school district’s TRACE Alternative School program for young adults aged 18 to 22 with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Sean Whitacre
Principal & Senior Architect
DAHLIN Architecture

The project will also have meeting spaces for local nonprofits to use.

“We’re seeing a lot of opportunities to develop excess properties owned by school districts,” said Sean Whitacre, principal and senior architect at DAHLIN.

“You have a reduction in enrollment in public schools statewide, maybe nationwide. You see school districts that are interested in monetizing these properties and providing housing that can go for teachers and their staff.”

Whitacre said that the Central Elementary School campus “is a great case study, an example of this type of development which I think you’ll see more of.”

Community Value

Central Elementary was moved in 2022 to a site it shares with Wilson Middle School on Orange Avenue.

Pending financing and final school district board approval, construction of the new project could start in 2026 and be finished in 2028, said Mellody Lock, Affirmed Housing director of development.

HA Builder Group, based in El Cajon, is the general contractor.

The five-story, 250,000-square-foot family housing would be built first and have 72 one-bedroom apartments of 600 square feet, 80 two-bedroom apartments of 840 square feet, 70 three-bedroom apartments of 1,100 square feet, and 48 four-bedroom apartments of 1,330 square feet.

Mellody Lock
Director, Development
Affirmed Housing

The apartments in the family housing would be earmarked for families with annual incomes between 30% and 100% of the Area Median Income.

The senior housing would have 24 studio apartments of 400 square feet and 32 one-bedroom apartments of 600 square feet with a two-bedroom manager’s apartment of 840 square feet.

Portable classrooms that were used for the school will be removed, and the remaining permanent structures will be remodeled to include 7,750 square feet for TRACE, 1,500 square feet of office space, 3,000 square feet for the Fern Street Circus and a 1,000-square-foot community kitchen, according to Affirmed Housing’s plan.

An 80-foot-wide walkway/plaza would bisect the site with space for a farmer’s market, outdoor activities by the Fern Street Circus and community events.

The family housing would be built on the west end of the site, bordered by Polk Ave on the north, University Avenue on the south, and an existing bike path on the west.
The senior housing would be to the east of the walkway.

An existing bike path connects the site to Teralta Park, which was built over Interstate 15 and was the first park built as a freeway cap in California. The site also is adjacent to a transit center on University Avenue.

“There’s bus rapid transit lines that run through there that really connect to the community, so leveraging those kinds of things adds to the (project’s) community value,” said Vianney Ruvalcaba, development coordinator of Affirmed Housing.

Affirmed Housing
FOUNDED: 1992
CEO: Jim Silverwood
PRESIDENT: Jimmy Silverwood
HEADQUARTERS: Sabre Springs
EMPLOYEES: 32
WEBSITE: www.affirmedhousing.com
CONTACT: 858-679-2828.
NOTABLE: Since 1992, Affirmed Housing has financed more than $2.8 billion in affordable housing projects.

DAHLIN Architecture / Planning / Interiors
FOUNDED: 1976
HEADQUARTERS: Pleasanton, CA
CEO/PRESIDENT: Nancy Keenan
BUSINESS: Architecture, planning, and interior design
EMPLOYEES: 180
WEBSITE: https://www.dahlingroup.com
CONTACT: 925-251-7200
NOTABLE: DAHLIN is a diverse architecture, planning and interiors practice. The firm works with developers, local governments, and private clients.

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