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Pasadena Studios

Pasadena Studios LP brings affordable housing to Pasadena at no cost to the city

Pasadena, CA – November 16, 2021 – Pasadena Studios LP announced today that funding has closed and construction has commenced on 180 affordable micro-units located at 280 N. Oakland Avenue in Pasadena, CA. Completion is scheduled for Spring of 2023. The project is targeted to entry-level workers earning 30% to 60% of area median income seeking modern, affordable housing near jobs and public transit.

“We believe Pasadena Studios will be an impetus to spur more developers to build projects that serve the unmet housing needs of Pasadena residents,” said CBG Co-Founder Joe Seager. “We are creating 180 affordable apartments, at no cost to the City of Pasadena, that will allow residents to live near where they work and take advantage of easily accessed public transportation.”

“This important project is now underway thanks to the support of the City of Pasadena, starting with former Mayor Terry Tornek, Current Mayor Victor Gordo, and the entire city council, including John Kennedy, District 3 Councilmember,” said Jim Osterling, Co-Developer. “The Planning and Building & Safety Departments, led by David Reyes, fast tracked the entitlements and building permits in record time to meet a very tight funding deadline.”

“First of all, I would just like to commend you and your partners for really engaging in this type of a development that’s critically needed in the City of Pasadena,” said Kennedy. “I commend you for your leadership and the fact that you’re not asking the City of Pasadena for a dime.”

Careful attention has been paid to every design element at Pasadena Studios. The large balconies, included in every unit, and the common area courtyards combine to make the space feel more open and livable. Rooftop amenities, a workout room, and a grand lobby entrance round out the amenities available to residents at Pasadena Studios.

Affordable Micro Unit Development Begins Construction


Source: Pasadena Weekly

By Luke Netzley

Pasadena Weekly Deputy Editor

Pasadena real estate development firm Community Builders Group has started construction on 180 affordable micro units at 280 N. Oakland Avenue in Pasadena.

It’s slated for completion in spring 2023.

The project is targeted to entry-level workers earning 30% to 60% of area median income and seeking modern, affordable housing near jobs and public transit.

“Pasadena is our home base, and at this moment in time the housing crisis is evident and it’s important to us that we use our skills in a way that benefits our local community. We feel that’s where we can make the biggest impact,” CBG co-founder Christian Hart said.

While the name “micro unit” suggests a small living area within the development, the units come with bathrooms, kitchens, and balconies as well as access to several shared spaces throughout the property, including a rooftop deck, atrium and gym. There will also be programs such as yoga classes, guided meditation, and movie nights to give residents the opportunity to come together and form a tightknit community.

Market research suggests that Pasadena Studios tenants will likely be either newcomers to Pasadena looking to grow their income and start a family, those who live in another community but commute to Pasadena for work, or residents who are lifelong Pasadena residents but struggling to pay rent due to rising prices.

The cost of rent that the tenants will pay is determined by whether they fall into the 30%, 50%, or 60% area median income level, but will ultimately be far lower than the market rate regardless of which category they’re in.

“Giving people a place to live that’s affordable, where they’re not spending 50% of their income on rent, allows them to have a lifestyle that can help benefit the community,” CBG co-founder Joe Seager described about the project. “That extra money is able to be used in the economy and create jobs. It has a lot of impact, not just for the residents that are fortunate enough to be able to live here, but also in the community because people are living and working in the same city where they’re spending their revenue.”

“It’s a win-win for the city,” Hart added. “A resident that’s able to stay in town to work and live can then spend money in their neighborhood, which helps small businesses. Coming out of the pandemic, small businesses have been wrecked. We feel that this is another opportunity to further facilitate their recovery.”

Pasadena Studios is a collaboration between CBG and Bridge Financial Advisors, a real estate development and advisory firm, and has been funded by tax exempt bonds and low-income housing tax credits at no cost to the city of Pasadena. Hart and Seager also worked closely with Councilmember John Kennedy, Mayor Victor Gordo, and David Reyes from the city of Pasadena to ensure that the project was completed without any soft funds from the city.

“We’re using tax-exempt bonds from the state and the tax credits from the federal government so that we’re able to build at a very reasonable cost without requiring the city to put any money in. And that’s where we feel there’s a benefit not just to the residents, but also in the tax money coming back into the city,” Seager said.

“We’re so lucky to be working with partners like the city of Pasadena, and to do it in our backyard where we can have this pronounced impact. It was a combination of factors that really helped all of us,” Hart explained.

Hart and Seager founded Community Builders Group from an office on Lake Avenue in 1999 with the mission to provide quality housing for underserved communities and use their development projects to elevate neighborhoods through community-oriented design.

“We want to use these next 10 years to structure deals that have affordable and market rate components because it really creates a viable opportunity for people to live in their local neighborhoods where they can utilize those resources, work close to home, send their children to school, and be able to be present for their children and their families. That has meaning for us and that’s what we want to accomplish.”


New Affordable Housing Development Chips Away at Councilmember’s ‘1,000 Units in 1,000 Days’ Goal


Source: Pasadena Now

Councilmember John Kennedy joined developers Community Builders Group and Pasadena Studios LP Wednesday for the official groundbreaking ceremony of a new affordable housing development of 180 affordable micro-units at 280 North Oakland Avenue.

According to the developers, the project is scheduled to be completed in the spring of 2023. The project is targeted to entry-level workers earning 30% to 60% of area median income seeking modern, affordable housing near jobs and public transit.

The project, Pasadena Studios, will feature 180 all-affordable units.

Artist’s rendering of the Pasadena Studios, to be built at 280 North Oakland Ave. . [Image courtesy City of Pasadena] Co-developers Joseph Seager and Christian Hart of Community Builders Group, along with James Osterling and Hunter S. Simmons, of Bridge Financial Advisors, were also in attendance at the ceremony.

Kennedy in 2020 called on the city to build 1,000 units of affordable housing within a three-year period during a Council discussion of the city’s Regional Housing Needs Allocation. The city is required to build 9,400 units by 2029.

Co-developer Osterling referred to that objective in comments to Pasadena Now.

“Councilmember Kennedy’s objective for the city of Pasadena to help meet our citywide affordable housing needs is a thousand units in a thousand days,” said Osterling. “Our project is one small part of that overall effort. We’re proud to help contribute to meeting that goal.”

The process behind Pasadena Studios has taken years, he said.

“This project is an overnight success that’s been six years in the making. We’d been searching throughout Pasadena for a bit of a needle in the haystack, a property that had the right location and characteristics and zoning for us to make a very specific type of affordable housing.

“And, we took a long, hard look at two other sites,” said Osterling, “before settling on this site about two years ago, and then really began processing this site in earnest.”

While two older homes originally sat on the Oakland Avenue property, they were not officially deemed historic and were demolished, but not before workers from Pasadena Architectural Salvage came onto the site and recovered a significant amount of historic Craftsman housing elements, such as doors and windows, according to Osterling.

“I am a historic renovator going back at least 50 years,” added Osterling, “And I was really favorably surprised at how much they were able to salvage out of these old homes, (while) the homes themselves had been declared not to be historic. So that material is now available for others to reuse in their homes.”

According to a representative from Councilmember John Kennedy’s office, the complex met all Pasadena protocols, and was built by right, with no variances, and no state mandates. In addition, no City of Pasadena subsidies were required, said the office.

The Plan Check was also approved in a mere three months, the office said. Pasadena Studios was also awarded Federal Tax Credits along with Tax-Exempt Bonds to make the units affordable.

Added Osterling, “Pasadena has been more receptive to the idea of affordable housing compared to some other cities that have really thumbed their nose at it.”

“And even though we’re receptive,’ he continued, “I just don’t think that we have the number of sites available, and frankly, the demand for that type of housing, (like) higher density, attached housing, condos, and apartments that it’s going to take to get that many units built that quickly, but Pasadena is, I think, making a truer good faith effort than other communities.”

According to the Community Builders’ website, “Careful attention has been paid to every design element at Pasadena Studios. The large balconies, included in every unit, and the common area courtyards combine to make the space feel more open and livable. Rooftop amenities, a workout room, and a grand lobby entrance round out the amenities available to residents at Pasadena Studios.”

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