Senior Plaza clears final financial hurdle |

Senior Plaza clears final financial hurdle

Jenifer Ragland

The final piece of the Tahoe Senior Plaza project has fallen into place, helping to fill a desperate void in South Shore affordable housing.

Last week, the 45-unit senior-designated apartment complex received $3.5 million in capital advance grant funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The money, in addition to $1.04 million supplied by the city of South Lake Tahoe, will allow the Oakland-Calif. based developer, American Baptist Homes of the West, to construct the two-story building with many specialized amenities and a “universally accessible” design, said Patrick Conway, South Lake Tahoe housing coordinator.

After numerous public hearings, some initial opposition from neighboring residents and a change in the plan from family to senior housing, the developer was waiting for the HUD funding in order to go forward with the full project.

“This is the first time we’ve had senior housing in the Tahoe Basin, and there is a tremendous need,” Conway said. “I’m glad we are finally able to provide the housing to meet the need for the seniors.”

Conway said more than 50 seniors have already expressed interest in renting the apartment units, which will be located on the corner of Third Street and Jean Avenue. The formal application process will take place when construction begins, probably in May of 1998. Construction is scheduled to finish in December 1998.

HUD also awarded the project a five-year rental subsidy in the amount of $669,500, which allows the housing department to reduce rents of certain tenants to an amount they can afford.

As a condition of the grant, the apartments will be designated to those of age 62 and older and earning less than 50 percent of the median income for El Dorado County. According to a March 1997 market study, about 47 percent of South Lake Tahoe seniors fall into that category. The monthly rents will range between $200 and 300, adjusted for each individual based on what they can afford, Conway said.

In the months preceding the grant application, a senior advisory council led by former Mayor Frank Du Quite worked to help design the project to meet the needs of the elderly.

As a result of the senior input, special design features of the project include an elevator, accessibility to all amenities from inside the building, widened doorways, walkways and bathrooms, safety grab bars, wheelchair-accessible kitchens and lower light switches. The complex will also have its own shuttle system and outdoor walking area.

Du Quite said he is ecstatic about the award.

“A lot of people are on fixed income here and we do have a large senior community,” he said. “Quite a few seniors are really struggling. This is a plus for the community and senior population.”

According to the HUD office in San Francisco, the Tahoe Plaza project received the funds over nine other California cities competing because it “fulfills a great need, as there is a complete lack of subsidized senior housing in the Tahoe Basin and it has broad community support from both public and private sectors.”

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