Grand Opening of Highgrove Blossom Apartments

HIGHGROVE, CA – An important stride forward in providing workforce housing in Riverside County is being achieved with the completion of Highgrove Blossom Apartments, a multifamily community co-developed by Workforce Homebuilders LLC and Jamboree Housing Corporation in partnership with the County of Riverside and the county’s Housing Authority.

Workforce Homebuilders’ President, Tony Mize, said the completion of Highgrove Blossom is the culmination of several years of sustained effort by both his company and the County of Riverside to develop the workforce housing community. This determination is underscored in the face of the recession and the loss of redevelopment funding which was critical to financing affordable housing in Riverside County and throughout the state, Mize continued. “Thanks to the support of the County of Riverside and our representatives in the State Legislature, we were able to secure 9% Low-Income Housing Tax Credit funding and partner with Jamboree to develop this workforce housing community,” Mize said. “It was a long road from beginning to end and its completion is a milestone for both my company and for me personally.”

Laura Archuleta, Jamboree President, said that Highgrove Blossom is the fourth affordable housing property that Jamboree has built in Riverside County and she looks forward to future projects in the county as the company seeks to expand its development activities in the Inland Empire. “The development of Highgrove Blossom in partnership with Workforce Homebuilders has been an enlightening experience for us as we worked hand-in-hand with the County of Riverside and its Housing Authority. It’s always refreshing to develop workforce housing in a place where it’s really wanted and there’s the full support of stakeholders and local government.”

Highgrove Blossom is located in the unincorporated  community of Highgrove at 550 West Center Street, Riverside, in an area with excellent job and educational opportunities. The community site is bordered by the City of Riverside and the City of Grand Terrace and is ideally situated between the recently opened Highgrove Library and Highgrove Elementary School. The Highgrove Community Center and Park and the county Fire Station are one block east of the property.

The apartment community features 60 two-bedroom and 28 three-bedroom  apartments for 88 families who earn between 30% and 60% of the area median income (AMI) and a two-bedroom unit for the on-site property manager.  For example, a family of four earning $23,850 (30% AMI) will pay about $383/month in rent for their three-bedroom  apartment home. Forty-eight households moved in during last month – 30 days ahead of schedule – and the final 41 apartments are to be occupied by the end of November.

Riverside County Supervisor Marion Ashley, who represents the 5th District, stated that, “The completion of Highgrove Blossom emphasizes the importance of persistence and political will when local governments decide to build workforce housing for their residents.”  Supervisor Ashley’s district encompassed Highgrove when the project’s development process commenced several years ago. Although his district no longer includes Highgrove, he has continued to be a strong supporter and advocate of Highgrove Blossom and workforce housing in general for the region.

Riverside County Supervisor John Tavaglione, whose 2nd District now includes Highgrove, said one of his top priorities when Highgrove became part of his district was to ensure that Highgrove Blossom would be financed and developed. “There is significant demand in Riverside County for workforce housing and I was committed to work with my fellow supervisors to overcome any barriers to development and establish necessary coalitions to see this important project through to completion,” Tavaglione stated.

“Highgrove Blossom was caught in the economic downturn of the Great Recession coupled with the demise of redevelopment, two events that could have been the death knell for this project,” Supervisor Tavaglione explained.  “Realizing how important workforce housing is to our county and to so many of our working families, the Board of Supervisors decided to do whatever was necessary to keep Highgrove Blossom moving ahead. Once Sacramento realized how committed we were to build Highgrove Blossom, barriers fell away and financing critical to its development fell in place.”

”I believe its completion is a testament to the power of political will and to the importance of a can-do attitude on the part of local government and their residents,” he continued.  “We overcame a number of financing hurdles and other roadblocks to arrive at where we are today. From my perspective, it was worth the journey. Personally, I could not be happier to see Highgrove Blossom completed and occupied with families who will make important contributions to our county.”

An example of smart growth, the workforce housing community provides important amenities to enhance the quality of life for residents. The overall community plan includes numerous open spaces and amenities such as a 2,690-square foot community building, three laundry care centers, controlled access gates, pool and spa, computer lab with Wi-Fi, and an onsite community manager and leasing office. Each apartment building offers attached garage parking for residents in addition to another 156 on-grade and carport parking spaces for residents and visitors.

The property’s strategic location links quality housing with valuable community and family resources. The bus stop for a major bus route is located at the Highgrove Blossom entrance, and the property is within three miles of John W. North High School and University Heights Middle School. Plus, residents can request transfers to the new Grand Terrace High School one-half mile away. The new community is also close to shopping, entertainment, restaurants and job opportunities, five miles from Loma Linda University Medical Center, and six miles from Loma Linda VA Hospital. The University of California Riverside and Riverside Community College are four miles and five miles respectively from the property.

State Assemblymember  Jose Medina, whose 61st Assembly District includes Riverside, Moreno Valley, and Perris, congratulated all parties involved in the successful development of Highgrove Blossom and stated that the public/private collaboration serves as a case study of how local governments, developers, housing advocates, and stakeholders can work together to create quality affordable housing. “As chair of the Assembly Committee on Jobs, Economic Development and the Economy, I fully understand and appreciate the importance of housing and I am a big proponent of public/private partnerships as powerful vehicles to fund and develop workforce housing such as Highgrove Blossom,” Assemblymember Medina said. “A diversity of quality housing at various price levels is key to Riverside County’s and our state’s continuing economic growth.”

Congressman Mark Takano, whose 41st Congressional District covers Riverside, Moreno Valley, Jurupa Valley and Perris, said the fact that Highgrove Blossom was selected over other housing developments to receive the Federal 9% low income housing tax credits underscores the project’s importance in providing workforce housing to local residents.  “From my viewpoint, this was a true collaboration that not only won these tax credits after stiff competition, but demonstrated how the public and private sectors can work together to achieve important economic and social objectives such as providing affordable housing for growing families.  My hat is off to everyone involved in this development.”

Robert Field, Assistant County Executive Officer of the Economic Development Agency and Housing Authority of the County of Riverside, highlighted the importance of workforce housing to support the county’s economic growth – especially now with the economic recovery underway. “This type of quality affordable housing is critical to the economic health and vitality of our county and its residents,” Field said. “As the local economy improves and the employment base grows, the Economic Development Agency – in cooperation with the county Housing Authority and city governments – has made it a top commitment to work with developers to increase the supply of workforce housing. Highgrove Blossom is a major step forward in fulfilling that commitment.” He pointed to the fact that the construction of Highgrove Blossom generated a number of jobs, more than half of which were held by local workers in the Inland Empire.

Designed by William Hezmalhalch Architects, Highgrove Blossom’s two-story craftsman style architecture is a model for large household, workforce apartments, each with central heating and air conditioning, window and floor coverings, ceiling fans, exterior storage closets, and walk-in closets in the bedrooms, as well as a patio or balcony, and pre-wiring for cable and Internet service. Green features include ENERGY STAR kitchen appliances; flow reducers in kitchen and bathroom faucets; water efficient low-flow toilets; tankless water heaters; low-VOC interior paint and paperless drywall;  CRI Green Label low-VOC carpeting, underlayment and low-VOC adhesives; efficient use of low maintenance, drought tolerant native plant material, and capture and filtration of rain water.

Additionally, Highgrove Blossom utilizes the Enterprise Green Communities program to bring improved health, economic and environmental benefits of sustainable living to its residents. Enterprise Green Communities helps developers, investors, builders and policymakers make the transition to a green future for affordable housing.

Workforce Homebuilders and Jamboree believe in creating communities that offer free onsite programs and services which provide opportunities and resources for residents to enrich the quality of their life through the availability of free programs and services. Jamboree’s Resident Services Group, Housing with HEART, will provide opportunities and resources that are specifically tailored to meet the unique needs of residents. These programs include activities such as homework assistance and tutoring for young people, health and wellness programs and community-building activities for all residents. An onsite program coordinator will assist residents in accessing local community services.

Funding for the nearly $21 million development includes financing from the County of Riverside Housing Authority with $7.4 million plus donation of the land; a $7.6 million construction loan from U.S. Bank; a $350,000 AHP loan from Federal Home Loan Bank; RBC provided funding via a $9.9 million Low-Income Housing Tax Credit equity investment; and a private trust loaned $2.4 million for construction and permanent financing. Built 90 days ahead of schedule, the general contractor was Portrait Construction, Inc., and the landscape was designed by Van Dyke Landscape Architects. Property management is provided by Barker Management, Inc.

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Discussed in this article: 2014, 2014

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