Project Comes Forward with Revised Proposal and a Mix of Units
Mix of units. That is the description used by the developers to describe Plaza 2555, which has submitted formalized plans and will go forward to the Planning Commission on August 22. While the city has approved a number of largely student housing projects, this project is more mixed with two-thirds of the units and half of the beds being for one-, two-, and three-bedroom dwelling units.
Moreover, many of the units will be townhouses rather than apartments.
Write the developers in their Project Narrative, revised on June 28, “Plaza 2555 is located and designed to generate broad-based appeal among a wide range of Davis residents, including workforce participants, students, young professionals, and people downsizing their housing.”
They believe that the project, which is nestled against I-80, across from Playfields Park on Cowell Boulevard, is located “in an ideal location” which is near employment opportunities, neighborhood shopping, great transportation, quality schools, and convenient medical services.
The developers write: “After all, the City’s extraordinarily low vacancy rate (0.02%) affects all Davisites be they renters or homeowners, including people in the workforce, students, families, young professionals, and seniors. We believe that Plaza 2555’s broad-based appeal addresses the City’s unmet housing needs and responds effectively to the input that we have received from neighbors, residents, and decision-makers.”
The project rests on a surprisingly large parcel or 6.35 acres, given its unusual triangular shape. It would be developed into “row-house style buildings,” each of which would contain “several apartments of various sizes and separated by landscaping.”
Writes the developer, “This design allows for an active street front with a variety of elevations facing Research Park Drive. It also allows the project to include many types of units.”
The project includes a mix of micro flat, 1-bedroom, 2-bedroom, 3-bedroom, 4-bedroom, and 5-bedroom apartments in a total of up to 200 apartments (approximately 607 bedrooms). Most of the units are smaller apartments.
Writes the developer, “We see a real need for a more traditional mix of units that provide opportunities for all kinds of Davis renters, rather than simply for students. The mix of units is designed to attract a range of diverse residents and create a vibrant community.”
They add that the low vacancy rate impacts everyone, not just students. “In contrast to other recent student-oriented projects that the City has recently approved, Plaza 2555 would be focused on meeting a variety of unmet housing needs, including small units,” they write.
“In conversation with neighbors, stakeholders, and decision makers, Plaza 2555 has committed to providing at least 67% of its units as ‘smaller units’ with three bedrooms or fewer,” the developers write.
At least 10 percent of the overall number of units will be “micro units,” which are described in more detail below.
“Plaza 2555 has also committed to cap the overall number of ‘larger units’ with four or more bedrooms at 33% of the total number of units. No more than 10% of the total number of units would have five bedrooms. This guaranteed mix of units is designed to respond to community input and provide excellent housing options for renters,” they add.
Plaza 2555 is designed to appeal to many different kinds of renters, including the following:
- Workforce Housing. Recent projects have focused on larger units that are designed for students. There are few workforce housing options, and Plaza 2555 will include new options for such residents who want to live either alone or with their nuclear families in relatively small apartments near employment and convenient to neighborhood services like shopping, parks, and schools.
- Professionals. With so many recent student housing projects, there has been little attention given to recent graduates seeking their first housing as young professionals. Micro-units, without roommates, or two- and three-bedroom units, with roommates, are likely to appeal to young professionals who are just starting their careers. Providing housing that appeals to young professionals can have the secondary benefit of relieving some of the market pressure on student housing closer to campus, saving that student housing for students themselves.
- Students. Students comprise a large proportion of the renters in Davis and would likewise be welcome residents in the Plaza 2555 project.
- Downsizing. Finally, there are few rental housing choices for people downsizing into smaller housing. Creating new rental housing of various sizes creates options for people whose living situations change and who want to stay in Davis. Plaza 2555’s proximity to transit, neighborhood shopping, and medical services makes it particularly well suited to such people.
The developers explain that these are “traditional apartments designed for broad appeal.” They write: “It is worth noting that the Plaza 2555 project is designed as a traditional apartment project, rather than as Purpose-Built Student Housing (PBSH). This is reflected in the unit mix as well as other design features. PBSH tends to include monolithic buildings in which apartments are accessed by long hotel-type corridors. The PBSH projects include a higher proportion of large apartments that are leased by the bed. In contrast, Plaza 2555 includes a variety of rowhouses in which the apartments open to the outside. Most of the units are smaller units. Leasing will be typical by the unit not bed.”
Plaza 2555 will include five percent of the rental units to be rented at an affordable rent to very low income households. With the proposed project of 200 units, Plaza 2555 would provide 10 micro units that are affordable to very low income households. At current standards, the rent for such units would be up to about $672, which is 30 percent of the income for a household earning 50 percent of the AMI (area median income).
Plaza 2555 will also propose to provide affordable housing at “extremely low income” levels.
“This housing would be provided through individual leases in shared bedrooms. The result will be a mixed-income rental community in which people of all income levels can live in close proximity to one another. To assure a mixed-income community, Plaza 2555 proposes that 10% of the project’s beds be rented at very affordable levels,” the developers explain.
They explain: “Half of the individual leases (approximately 44) would be for individuals at ‘very low income levels, up to 50% of AMI. At current standards, the monthly rent for such ‘very low’ income individual leases would be up to about $672, which is 30% of the income for a household earning 50% of the AMI. This would provide affordable housing for 44 people.”
The other half would be for the extremely low income levels, 30 percent of AMI. “At current standards, the monthly rent for such ‘extremely low’ income individual leases would be up to about $404, which is 30% of the income for a household earning 30% of the AMI. This would provide affordable housing for 44 people.”
Again, the project will go to the Planning Commission on August 22.
—David M. Greenwald reporting