With Salvator complete, Community HousingWorks vies for Downtown Sacramento affordable project

On the heels of completing an affordable housing project on Arden Way in Sacramento, San Diego-based Community HousingWorks is hoping to add a Downtown Sacramento project to its queue.

The nonprofit developer has acquired 1511 I St. in recent weeks in a bid to expand the impact of a potential project that would include a neighboring property owned by the state of California on the northeast corner of 15th and I streets.

“That project came up as a strategy area to buy,” said Steve Swiecicki, Community HousingWorks’ vice president of acquisitions and forward planning. “It is a bit of a gamble.”

As part of the state’s request for qualifications for the property at 825 15th St., Community HousingWorks has submitted a potential project, including 1511 I St., of 69 affordable units.

Swiecicki said his firm will submit something more formal to the state’s request for proposals in the next few months. The proposed project would be intended for families, meaning more units with two or three bedrooms, and restricted to those with incomes of 30% to 60% of area median income.

That would correspond to annual incomes of about $21,000 to about $42,000.

“We’re hoping we made an offer they can’t refuse,” Swiecicki said. The property at 1511 I St., a parking lot of .36 of an acre, already has by-right zoning for a housing project and is walkable to nearby restaurants, parks and a planned grocery store, he said.

“The idea was that there was so much happening there already,” he said, adding even if the state selects another developer for 825 15th St., 1511 I St. could stand on its own as a development site.

Records show Community HousingWorks paid $2.55 million for 1511 I St., in a deal brokered by Turton Commercial Real Estate. The seller appears to be a partnership of developers Mark Friedman and Mike Heller. A message left with a representative for Friedman Friday wasn’t returned.

Three years after it started construction, Community HousingWorks’ officials said they were gratified to see completion of Salvator, a 120-unit project at 880 Arden Way.

Jackie Oh, Community HousingWorks’ associate director of development, said the $45 million project, the firm’s first in Sacramento, brought plenty of learning opportunities.

“Just keeping a finger on the pulse of what’s going on,” she said, noting that since work began, Salvator had to weather setbacks from the Covid-19 pandemic, labor shortages, supply chain issues and inflation. “It was very, very challenging to try to manage a budget with these delays,” she said.

Dedicated late last month, Salvator is fully occupied, she said.

While going through entitlement review, Salvator encountered friction from residents in the neighboring Woodlake neighborhood. Oh said she was happy to hear attendees at the dedication express surprise at the final result.

“They said it looked like a market-rate project,” she said.

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