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NORTH BAY – Less than three months after unveiling a large senior housing project in Petaluma, low-income housing developer PEP Housing is moving forward on two new senior building projects, including its first site outside of Sonoma County.

In January, the nonprofit housing provider opened the doors to an all-green, 58-unit complex in Petaluma, which in no time filled to capacity. Executive Director Mary Stompe said the need for aging populations in Sonoma and Marin counties is growing so quickly, the group is already in the midst of developing two new projects for low-income elderly residents.

The next development slated to break ground in September is PEP’s first Marin County project. Ms. Stompe said about ten sources have committed funding for the apartments, including one of only five grants awarded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development to groups in California.

The small, 13-unit project called Toussin Senior Apartments will be located in a residential neighborhood in Kentfield near the College of Marin, backed up to Mount Tamalpais. Construction on the $6 million project will take about 10 months with an expected opening date in summer 2010.

The two-story complex will be organized in two buildings with a central courtyard, including fruit trees and raised flower beds with an adjacent laundry room. Each unit will measure about 650 square feet with one bedroom and bathroom and have counters, cabinets and workspaces adjusted for less-strenuous access. Bathrooms will also have roll-in accessible showers with foldable seats. The project is designed for extremely low-income and very low-income adults older than 55.

Another $13 million project in Santa Rosa will break ground summer 2010, and will add another 44 low-income senior housing units to the county when it opens the following July 2011. Dubbed Acacia Lane Senior Housing, the development will have an on-site orchard, network of walking trails and unique tribute to local philanthropist and botanist Luther Burbank.

Located near the intersection of Highway 12 and Acacia Lane, the design is meant to mimic rural farm architecture and compel residents to engage in community activities. A 1,700-square-foot “barn” in the center of the property will function as a community center with library, kitchen, restrooms, multi-purpose room, reading room and patio and terrace. Each tenant will also be allotted an individual garden plot.

The living spaces are divided into two, three-story structures called the “farm houses” and will have large overhangs and windows facing hill views. The total site is about 1.32 acres.

Rooms will average about 630 square feet, with 43 one-bedroom spaces and one two-bedroom, 750-square-foot manager’s space. Each room will have a small patio or balcony and kitchens and bathrooms adjusted to better serve seniors.

Both properties will have emergency-response capabilities, including crisis buttons or levers. Most areas are handicap accessible, and at least one unit will be wheelchair designed.

As with PEP’s recently opened Casa Grande community, both senior projects will utilize environmentally minded products and building practices.

Both sites will install roof-mounted solar panels with energy efficiency-minded architecture. Walking surfaces will be permeable, and grounds will include rain filtering bio-swales and efficient, drip watering systems. All landscaping will be drought-resistant to use less water.