Developers are promising to bring new life to a blighted section of Alkali Flat following the groundbreaking ceremony Thursday for 81 units of affordable housing adjacent to the Alkali Flat/La Valentina light rail station.
The site on the corner of 12th and D streets has been vacant for more than 20 years and previously housed an auto repair shop.
The new construction will include 63 apartments and 18 townhouses, the latter being the first “Net Zero” site designed for Sacramento, meaning all energy consumed on the site will be produced there.
“We’re here to bring, I think, the most contemporary, most cutting-edge design that we could bring to one of the oldest residential neighborhoods of Sacramento,” said Meea Kang, a principal at Domus Development, the San Francisco-based company in charge of the project. “We’re very pleased to be able to do that."
Kang said the $27 million project is being financed by a combination of private, state and local funding and will create and/or maintain about 400 jobs in the area. Construction is scheduled to be completed in summer 2012.
“We are tremendously excited about this project, because this is one of the first near-zero-energy projects in the Sacramento area,” said Paul Lau, assistant general manager of SMUD. “This meets all the requirements of a great project.”
SMUD contributed more than $400,000 in credits for the project’s energy conservation, Lau said.
Lau checked off a laundry list of energy-efficient features in the building, including solar roofing panels, sliding glass doors, energy-efficient windows, space heating, central air conditioning, compact fluorescent and LED lighting, and Energy Star appliances.
“The whole (City) Council is really excited about this project,” said City Councilman Steve Cohn, in whose district the project sits. “This project really hits all the sweet spots; this hits all the points that we are trying to do when we talk about Sacramento becoming the most livable city in America.”
Cohn applauded the fact that the site is “taking advantage of a 25-year investment” in the Alkali Flat/La Valentina light rail station and urged Sacramentans to rely more on walking, bicycles and public transit.
“These types of projects are going to do just that,” he said.
But it wasn’t just government officials and developers who saw the groundbreaking as a good thing Thursday.
“Affordable housing gets people off the street,” said Harvey Hayes, an area resident. “And the energy efficiency is big.”
Hayes said he believes people are speeding up the natural process of the Earth’s climate change, and in working to be more energy-efficient, that process can be slowed down.
“Anything and everything makes a difference,” he said.
Another local resident, Richard, who declined to give his last name, said the area has long been a haven for drug use and crime, but building new housing on what was formerly a derelict lot will help curtail that problem.
“This place is a slum,” he said. “(The new project) is going to help a lot with the drug situation.”
Brandon Darnell is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press.