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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.”