Thursday, April 15, 2010

San Diego Gets It Right

affordable towerWhat do you do if you are building a luxury condo tower in downtown San Diego and the market tanks? If you are KB Homes, you arrange for the city to take over the project, reconfigure the project and turn it into affordable housing. This is a remarkable example of cooperation between private and public enterprise that winds up benefiting everybody.

Multiple agencies cooperated in the project to provide something that is in short supply in this city; a decent place that working men and women can afford to live in the same neighborhood where they work. This tower sits right beside other downtown luxury condo towers, only those towers are significantly empty.

The Centre City Development Corp., which had approved design plans for the KB project, ultimately authorized a deferred, low-interest loan of $34 million, the largest one-time subsidy it has allocated for an affordable project. The CCDC loan, along with other state subsidies and contributions from tax-credit investors, allowed Affirmed to offer rents as low as $535 a month for a two-bedroom apartment.

Not only is affordable to the people who will live there, but it uses the latest technology to make it affordable to the planet we live on.

In an effort to keep Ten Fifty B’s construction and operating costs manageable, the project used recycled construction materials and energy-efficient lighting, as well as rooftop photovoltaic and solar hot-water panels. More than half the units have balconies, and large, landscaped terraces on the seventh and ninth floors are equipped with barbecues, fire pits and play areas for children.

“We used many aspects of KB’s initial design but made significant alterations to the building,” said Affirmed President James Silverwood. “We increased the number of units by reducing the square footage of each unit, and we reduced the height of each floor by 8 inches, which created enough room in the building to insert an additional floor.”

It is just really neat to see the city working like this to turn what would otherwise be a failed, empty building into a thriving place where working men, women and families live.

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