How Did They Do It? CityView@VanNess
CityView @ Van Ness in Fresno, California replaced a long-vacant building in a highly visible downtown location. Developed by the Fresno Housing Authority, the new development produced 45 units of affordable housing for entry-level workforce households. As an anchor for the revitalization of downtown Fresno, the influx of residents and added new commercial space supports downtown economic development. The $10.6 million project was financed with four percent federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits, City of Fresno HOME funds, and other sources.
The City of Fresno is an agricultural and financial center for the San Joaquin Valley, the southern half of California’s renowned agricultural Central Valley. It is the fifth-largest city in California, with a population of 520,159 in 2015 and a distinctive mix of more than 80 different nationalities. The city core, once neglected, is now the focus of revitalization efforts.
This project supports Fresno Housing’s efforts to create quality housing, engage residents, and contribute to vibrant communities. Fresno Housing has sought to play a critical role in driving community revitalization by creating and renovating quality affordable housing. Collaboration between the city and the housing authority for different elements of the project resulted in a win-win situation for new affordable housing units and downtown Fresno.
The area is part of the City of Fresno’s Downtown Revitalization/ Redevelopment Plan and the City of Fresno General Plan. The project site, centrally located near downtown business and restaurants and public transportation hubs, was envisioned to be a good location to attract younger workforce residents.
CityView @ Van Ness consists of a four-story design that includes three stories of residential above 3,000 square feet of ground-floor commercial/retail space and 2,500 square feet of common space. The project replaced a long-vacant building on a historic site. Even though the original structure was eventually demolished, the end product incorporates thoughtful design elements that preserve the history of the site. The architect’s efforts to create a distinctive design for the project create an appealing building that is an asset to the neighborhood.
To help narrow down the final plan, Fresno Housing convened stakeholder meetings downtown and hosted a community charrette to present several possible mixed-use configurations for the site. Strategically developing a mixed-use property and targeting a demographic in need of housing options that was already working downtown helped create a successful, vibrant project in downtown Fresno. The influx of residents and added new commercial space supports downtown economic development.
The opportunity to develop CityView @ Van Ness emerged at a time when most new housing being built in Fresno was higher end. CityView @ Van Ness seeks to have a similar look and feel as upscale properties but offer affordability for entry-level staff who work downtown and can’t afford more expensive options. The new development contains affordable housing for households earning below 50 percent and 60 percent of the area median income, or between $25,000 and $35,000 per year.