Affordable housing for seniors coming to Bell Gardens

BELL GARDENS - The city of Bell Gardens, in conjunction with developer Adobe Communities, unveiled plans Tuesday for their newest affordable housing development, Terra Bella, a senior housing complex at 5720 Clara St.The unveiling coincided with the demolition of a vacant, drug- and gang-infested complex that Terra Bella will replace, officials said. The city of Bell Gardens is providing redevelopment funds for the demolition and the new senior development. Terra Bella will be located within a mix of residential and commercial real estate, near shopping, dining and public transportation. The 65-unit development will offer one- and two-bedroom apartments ranging from 560 to 750 square feet to low-income seniors. Rents will range from $756 to $851 per month, with rental subsidy provided by the county. Funding for the $21 million project comes from city and county redevelopment funds, private investors and bank loans. Construction is anticipated to start in late summer 2011. The current 1.75-acre site, which has been vacant since December 2007, contains a 16-unit apartment complex and a commercial building previously used as a medical clinic. Both buildings are blighted and have become magnets for transients, drugs, gang violence, graffiti and vandalism, city officials said. "On behalf of the city of Bell Gardens and the neighbors of this area -- myself included -- I am so happy to see the blight and vandalism on this site turn into something beautiful, hopeful and so necessary in this community," said Bell Gardens mayor Jennifer Rodriguez. "Terra Bella will provide so many new homes for our seniors, who are currently on waiting lists for safe, affordable homes, and now they will have a stable place where they can make new friends." Residents of Terra Bella will receive assistance with daily living activities and access to health and wellness programs to prevent or delay physical and cognitive decline. Working in conjunction with the Human Services Association, seniors will also have access to recreational and civic engagements, and financial and legal services to provide access to benefits and prevent fraud. The property will also feature a community room, laundry facilities, a community garden and a "mind-body" fitness area. "It is crucial for senior residents on fixed incomes to have an affordable, safe and stable place to call home," said Robin Hughes, president of Adobe Communities, the project developer. "In six months, this community will witness the resurrection of this now-blighted site into a vibrant residential community where low-income seniors can age in place." The new Spanish Colonial-style complex will be comprised of a two- to three-story building designed with varying heights and a "village-like configuration." A small tower will mark the entry to the complex, while tiled roofs, heavy timber posts and deep-set openings complete the design. A central courtyard designed with traditional Spanish accents will be a main focus for residents and will provide "a secure area where many activities will take place," officials with Terra Bella said. The building will incorporate environmentally conscious features that exceed state guidelines. All residential appliances, light fixtures, HVAC equipment will be Energy Star certified, and the building will benefit from a photo-voltaic solar panel system. The project design specifies a use of environmentally preferred products for the health of residents. This includes formaldehyde-free cabinets and non-VOC paints and adhesives. And to improve indoor air quality, each unit will be built to exhaust to the exterior, as well as equipped to regulate outdoor air to improve circulation. Units will feature low-flow water fixtures and dual flush toilets. To increase efficiency in the use of natural gas, a central boiler will be used to heat water for the entire building.

********** Published: February 24, 2011 - Volume 9 - Issue 45