University Senior Housing Construction Set For Fall By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Friday June 10, 2005

Thanks to $12.5 million in tax credits granted by the state this week, construction can begin on an 80-unit low-income senior housing project at 1535 University Ave. 

With all necessary funding in hand, construction will begin in late October or early November, said project developer Ryan Chao of Satellite Housing, a Berkeley-based builder of low-income housing. 

“It’s a happy time for us,” said Chao. “It’s the last major funding we needed.” 

Featuring a much-lauded design by architect Erick Mikiten of Mikiten Architecture, University Avenue Senior Housing will offer studio and one- and two-bedroom apartments for tenants making from 30 percent to 60 percent of the Oakland-area average median income. 

Monthly rents will range from $435 to $931. 

The $12.5 million in tax credits were awarded by the state Tax Credit Allocation Committee, which receives an annual allocation from Washington. 

While the tax credits are of no direct financial value to Satellite, they represent a significant value to investors, who are allowed to apply them against their own income starting ten years after the original investment, said Chao. 

“It’s a highly competitive process, because there are limited amounts available,” said Chao. “We were very fortunate to get them in this round.” 

The allocations represent the largest share of the $20 million in project costs, with $1.2 million more coming from the city in housing trust funds and other allocations, $5.5 million in the form of a mortgage from Silicon Valley Bank, and $720,000 from the Federal Home Loan Bank board. 

In addition to the low-income apartments, the building also offers ground floor commercial spaces. One of the first tenants to move in will be Satellite itself, which will move its corporate headquarters from its current location at 2526 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Chao said. 

A second major tenant will be the Salvation Army’s food pantry and service office. 

The four-story, 80,501-square-foot project at the northeast corner of University Avenue and Sacramento Street features 33 parking spaces, 12 for commercial tenants and 21 for residents. 

The design won high praise from the city’s Design Review Committee and will feature colorful murals by noted Berkeley artist Juana Alicia.