San Bernardino, Calif. – Ground was broken Monday, June 15, on the first phase of the Waterman Gardens redevelopment project – a $200 million revitalization effort that will fill a housing void and serve as an economic catalyst for the neighborhood and the city.
Phase 1 consists of 76 new units at Valencia Avenue and 9th Street, adjacent to the existing Waterman Gardens community. Eventually, the project will include removal of the existing 1940s-era public housing at the Waterman Gardens site, and in its place, a state-of-the-art, energy- and water-efficient community will be built. Plans call for replacing the 252 existing affordable units, plus market-rate and senior apartments. In all, 411 new units will be built on site, in addition to the 76 units at Valencia and 9th.
National Community Renaissance, one of the nation’s largest nonprofit builders of affordable and senior housing, is the master developer of the project, in partnership with the City of San Bernardino and the Housing Authority of the County of San Bernardino.
“The Waterman Gardens redevelopment project is a fine example of how public-private partnership can revitalize our community, provide housing opportunities for our residents, and provide an economic boost to the local economy,” said Carey Davis, Mayor of San Bernardino.
Steve PonTell, President and Chief Executive Officer of National CORE, said the redevelopment project serves a greater need, not just in San Bernardino but the region as a whole.
“The lack of high-quality affordable and moderately priced housing is the single biggest economic challenge we face. Without it, prices inflate, employers can’t pay their workers enough to live here, transportation systems become overstrained, and public safety issues compound,” PonTell said. He referenced a study by the Center for Economic Research and Forecasting, which concluded that the redevelopment of Waterman Gardens will be an economic catalyst for the neighborhood and city – increasing property values, creating workforce housing opportunities, and attracting new businesses.
Phase 1 received a major boost last fall with the awarding of nearly $12 Million in tax credits from the State of California. In addition, the City of San Bernardino is investing $2.3 million of federally-allocated HOME-Investment Partnership funds into the project, with the balance of the $25 million first-phase funding coming from the Housing Authority of the County of San Bernardino, the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program, and a permanent loan from PNC Real Estate.
“This is a project that truly will transform a community and bring economic opportunity to the city as a whole,” said Dan Nackerman, Executive Director of the Housing Authority.
The Valencia and 9th Street site will feature one-to-four-bedroom units. Subsidized units will be available to households earning 30 percent to 60 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI). For San Bernardino County, the AMI is $60,700 for a family of four.
Amenities include a community center, featuring community meeting rooms, after-school program facilities and a computer lab. There will also be a children’s play area and swimming pool.
“The launching of this project involved significant public/private partnerships that will result in a high-quality affordable housing development with a variety of community amenities and social services,” said Bill Manis, Deputy City Manager for San Bernardino. “Val 9 represents the first phase of the planned transformational economic redevelopment of the Waterman Gardens public housing project and surrounding neighborhood.”
Erik Johnson, Vice President of Development for National CORE, said these kinds of partnerships are important to the future of San Bernardino and the Inland Empire. “Waterman Gardens is about so much more than a single housing development, but a broader commitment to the prosperity of our region. This is a great foundation, and we look forward to building from here.”
Gustav Joslin, Assistant Executive Director of the Housing Authority, called the project “long overdue:” “This new housing development is a critical first step toward the larger revitalization of the Waterman Gardens site and surrounding neighborhood. We look forward to our continued partnership with National CORE, the City, and the residents to ensure the success of this community effort.”
Dr. Tomás D. Morales, President of California State University, San Bernardino, said the university is pleased to be a partner in the revitalization of the Waterman Gardens neighborhood.
“This project aligns neatly with the core mission of Cal State San Bernardino, which is to transform lives – especially for those from socially and economically disadvantaged circumstances,” Dr. Morales said. “Raising educational levels is one of the most powerful forces for improving income and economic wellbeing in communities. The career training and educational services components of the new Waterman Gardens community will offer a springboard to opportunity and a pathway to a better quality of life for all those served.”
Said Josie Gonzales, San Bernardino County Supervisor for the 5th District, “The County of San Bernardino is proud to support developments like the Valencia and 9th Apartments that provide high-quality housing and supportive neighborhood services that put the community first.”
About National CORE
Rancho Cucamonga-based National Community Renaissance is one of the largest nonprofit developers of affordable housing, with nearly 9,000 units across four states. Over its 22-year history, CORE has received national recognition for its innovation and meshing of quality, affordable housing with transformational social services through its Hope through Housing subsidiary. For more on CORE, please visit www.nationalcore.org.
Steve Lambert, The 20/20 Network
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