In Orange County, developer National CORE has broken ground on a mixed-use project that will bring affordable housing and retail to land owned by Santa Ana United Methodist Church.

View from Santa Ana BoulevardSVA Architects

The project, called Legacy Square, would rise next to a future Orange County Streetcar stop at Santa Ana Boulevard and French Street, replacing two existing buildings.  Plans call for 93 one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments reserved for formerly homeless persons and low-income households earning between 30 and 60 percent of the area median income, as well as 1,750 square feet of ground-floor flex space, a 3,800-square-foot community room, and supportive services provided by Mercy House.

“There may be little more critical to our present moment than housing. Not simply four walls and a roof, but rather, housing that is safe, housing that is dignified, housing that can restore humanity and housing that can allow us to dream,” said Larry Haynes, CEO of Mercy House in remarks during the ceremony.

SVA Architects is designing apartment complex, which will use Mission Revival style buildings to complement surrounding structures.  Plans call for exteriors of smooth stucco, brick veneer, and metal, with publicly-accessible open spaces such as courtyard and a street-facing plaza.

Rendering of Legacy SquareCity of Santa Ana

Funding for Legacy Square includes roughly $35.5 million in tax-exempt bonds issued earlier this year by the California Statewide Communities Development Authority.

Other funding for the housing complex includes a $15-million grant from the California Strategic Growth Council, which has also committed $2 million for landscaping and open space near the project, as well as new bike lanes, high-visibility crosswalks, and $8 million to improve signaling on Metrolink's Orange County Line - a key component of the commuter rail agency's SCORE program.

At the time of the Strategic Growth Council funding announcement, a roughly three-year construction timeline for Legacy Square was expected.

609 North Spurgeon StreetGoogle Maps

The project is the first of five developments on which National CORE has partnered with religious institutions to build housing on church-owned land, the company announced last month.