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Affordable Micro-Unit Community Set to Open in California


Source: Affordable Housing Finance

Pasadena Studios has a per-unit cost of roughly $250,000, significantly less than many other affordable housing developments.

Units at Pasadena Studios have approximately 245 to 270 square feet of living space.

A new housing development will be the first completely affordable, micro-unit community in Pasadena, California.

Pasadena Studios will bring 180 units for individuals earning no more than $53,000 a year to the heart of the Southern California city.

Set to open this month, the project is the result of a partnership between Community Builders Group (CBG) and Bridge Financial Advisors (BFA). Built with strong support from the city of Pasadena, the new six-story development replaces dilapidated and abandoned single-family homes that were previously on the site. “As a micro-unit development, Pasadena Studios is a new type of affordable housing product,” said Bill Huang, director of the Pasadena Housing Department. “It may very well prove to be an important innovation to help address the affordable housing crisis for many individuals who can no longer afford the high market-rate rents in Pasadena.” Pasadena Studios will provide residents with a range of well-designed studio apartments, including ADA-accessible and adaptable units, with 245 to 270 square feet of living space. Each apartment also includes a private balcony, offering an indoor-outdoor living experience and additional square footage.

“With its innovative micro-unit designs and substantial amenities, Pasadena Studios redefines urban living for the affordable housing demographic, setting new standards for quality, sustainability, and community engagement,” said Joe Seager, CBG co-founder and principal. “This development represents the first of many micro-unit projects for CBG, with two additional Los Angeles County developments already in the pipeline.”

The micro-unit concept was chosen to ensure affordability and maximize the number of units for a building in a prime location.

Developed at a total cost of approximately $45 million, with construction costs of $27 million, Pasadena Studios has a per-unit cost of roughly $250,000—significantly less than the typical per-unit cost of other affordable housing developments in California and many other areas, according to the development team.

The community was built using federal low-income housing tax credits and tax-exempt bonds. Citibank played a significant role by providing the necessary loan funds based on awards from the California Tax Credit Allocation Committee and the California Debt Limit Allocation Committee. Notably, the development achieved its funding goals without relying on loans or subsidies from the city, making it an exceptional model among 100% affordable housing projects.

“This Class A development introduces a rare opportunity for entry-level professionals, seniors, and others looking for studio rentals in a vibrant neighborhood located close to transit, jobs, retail, and entertainment,” said Jim Osterling, BFA principal and owner. “By delivering affordable housing options to single-person households near where they work, we anticipate that this development will serve as a new model for urban affordable housing.”

The 56,000-square-foot community offers numerous amenities, including free internet service, a fitness center, a laundry room, a landscaped rooftop deck with seating, two grilling stations and fire features, a landscaped courtyard and seating areas, a lobby area seating with a kitchenette and community space, two elevators, secure entrances, security surveillance, and bike storage.

The development encourages sustainable living with features such as separate HEPA air filtration and HVAC systems in each unit, low-water-demand landscape materials, on-site stormwater retention and percolation, and solar panels. Additionally, the inclusion of electric vehicle charging stations and car-sharing services promotes a reduced carbon footprint and a commitment to environmental sustainability.

Rental applications are still being accepted for Pasadena Studios, which has already drawn strong interest. More than 900 prospective residents have applied to live in the community, and their applications are working their way through the income-restricted, compliance process.

Construction began in October 2021 and was led by Westport Construction, while Natoma Architects and LCRA served as the lead and local architects, respectively. When it opens for residents, the community will be managed by WinnResidential, the property management arm of WinnCompanies.