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New 84-unit Burbank Housing project raises the total number of affordable rental units to 1,961

Demand for affordable and low-income housing is greater than ever in the wake of the continuing mortgage crisis, widespread home foreclosures and high unemployment across the nation. The same is true in Sonoma County where recently about 918 applications were received for 84 new Colgan Meadows community rental units built by the Burbank Housing Development Corp.

Rental units in this project, located at 3000 Dutton Meadow near Colgan Creek, Bellevue Avenue and Elsie Allen High School in Santa Rosa, are affordably priced at 30 percent to 60 percent of the area median income.

“We are very proud of Colgan Meadows for several reasons,” said John Lowry, executive director of Burbank Housing. “These units are livable, tasteful and attractive and make good use of common space with a number of plazas and outdoor features. Parking is scattered so there is no mass of cars in one place.”

The property is located adjacent to a future park that was set aside from the original parcel in a single-family neighborhood that provides a good mix of local housing. “This was one of the first projects to comply with the city of Santa Rosa Standard Urban Storm Water Mitigation Plan requirements. Furthermore, all units on this 4-acre parcel, with a density approximating 18 to 20 units per acre, exceed the requirements of Title 24 by using hydronic heating and tankless water heaters,” according to Paul Fritz of Kellogg & Associates, architects of the project.

Site work began on this development in July 2007 for these two- to three-story buildings with a combination of studios to three- and four-bedroom townhomes as well as studio and one- and two-bedroom apartments. Colgan Meadows received its certificate of occupancy at the end of October with units available as of Nov. 3.

The highly efficient design and judicious use of materials contribute to the curb appeal of this rental community. Building exteriors are stucco and have composition roofs. The color scheme is thoughtful with a variety of subtle colors drawn from the Sonoma County landscape.

Some units have fenced yards and patios. Landscaping is generous and includes unusual, two-foot box trees along with shrubs and larger trees arranged in the turf areas.

There are play areas, a tot lot and ample exterior lighting throughout the complex. An array of solar panels was placed atop the community building to offset energy costs.

“These structures were built to be durable. We evaluated the total cost of maintaining the property over time and, while Colgan Meadows may have been more expensive to build, it will prove to be less expensive over time due to lower maintenance costs,” Mr. Lowry added. “For example, topcoat paint contains an elastic material that can expand and contract with temperature changes resulting in fewer cracks, reducing the need to touch up or repaint.”

The community center is the hub of Colgan Meadows and houses the community room with capacity for 100, a laundry and a kitchenette where hot food can be prepared for social events.

Built at a total cost of nearly $20 million (including $14.7 million for construction, $1.4 million for land and $405,000 for equipment and furnishings), Colgan Meadows is the largest of five rental and homeownership housing complexes currently being built by developer Burbank Housing. Others include the Pallisades in Calistoga (24 units), Sequoia Village in Sebastopol (20 self-help ownership units), Vida Nueva in Rhonert Park (24 supportive housing rental units) and Rowan Court in Santa Rosa (62 units).

Since 1984, and with the addition of the Colgan Meadows project, private, nonprofit Burbank Housing with its all-volunteer board of directors has constructed a total of 1,961 rental units for families, seniors, the handicapped, farm workers and single-room occupants as well as rentals for families and foster teens in transition.

Funding for Colgan Meadows was derived from five sources, including deferred-payment loans and some private debt; low-income housing tax credit, where investors can invest in low-income affordable housing; state funds, such as voter-approved 2002-‘06 tax credits available through the State Department of Housing and Community Development; and local funding from Santa Rosa federal pass-through sources, including 20 percent from the Redevelopment Agency for California Housing, in lieu of funding from developers.

Currently about 45 projects are being managed by Burbank Housing Management Corp. Included in this figure are 203 contractor-built, homeownership housing units that have also been constructed along with 536 mutual self-help homeownership units.

Seventy-five projects are classified as “self-help/for-sale” units, and all but three are in Sonoma County. Another 631 rental and homeownership housing units are in various predevelopment stages. The current total for all units developed is 3,057 as of Aug. 12, 2008.