Senior apartment complex built by Midstate earned nearly triple points

NORTH BAY – Petaluma Ecumenical Properties opened the region’s first GreenPoint-rated affordable housing development last month. The nonprofit has been serving the low-income population in Petaluma for more than 30 years.

Casa Grande Senior Residential Facility, built by general contractor Midstate Construction of Petaluma, earned almost triple the points needed for the green-building rating it received.

“We’ve built almost green for a long time,” said Mary Stompe, executive director of PEP Housing. “As an organization, we have set much higher standards for ourselves than are required.”

The 58-unit, five building, 36,386-square-foot Petaluma development features raised planters, a bocce ball court, a garden area and fountain. The facility is designed in a circular fashion promoting community.

The development is the first 100 percent universally designed residential project in Sonoma County. Universal design allows independent seniors and people with disabilities to maintain their independence longer.

“The idea with universal design is that anyone is accommodated – not just someone with a disability,” said Ms. Stompe. ”So, while totally independent and healthy, anyone at any age might have bad knees or a bad back that makes it difficult to reach outlets or open the oven.”

Universal design takes into account the broad range of accessibility for all people. Examples at Casa Grande are side-opening ovens, outlets higher off the ground, push-pull door handles on interior doors to avoid twisting the wrist, avoidance of toxic and allergenic materials and well-placed, sturdy handrails, controls and door handles that are within easy reach.

The facility is bordered by the Adobe Creek where Casa Grande High School maintains a privately funded fish hatchery.

Plans are in the works to bring the high school students and the seniors together.

“It would bring much joy and satisfaction to our seniors by working with the high school students to maintain the creek,” said Gary “Buz” Hermes, resident services coordinator. “It’s our hope that through an inter-generational program, seniors and teens will learn from and about each other, which will help bridge the generation gap and foster a stronger community.”

Casa Grande Senior Apartments consist of 58 one-bedroom apartments and 1,850 square feet of community space. The residential buildings have exterior balconies with protection from the elements.

The design of the building by architect Tony Battaglia of Archumana borrows from the agricultural theme of the region.

PEP Housing provides affordable housing for low-income seniors. Founded in 1978, PEP Housing has developed and now manages 13 properties with 274 apartments accommodating more than 300 low-income seniors.