Big changes are in the works for University Gardens, a 5.7-acre apartment complex located across the street from the USC campus.
Community Builders Group, which acquired University Gardens more than two decades ago, has announced plans to add a new affordable housing complex to the property at 1250 W. Jefferson Boulevard. Plans call for the construction of a new seven-story building which would feature 122 residential units, all reserved for households earning between 30 and 80 percent of the area median income level.
“As the demand for affordable housing continues to grow, CBG recognizes the urgent need for innovative solutions that make a difference in people's lives,” said Community Builders Group co-founder Joe Seager in a news release. “With 1250 West Jeff, we are taking a bold step forward in addressing this issue head-on. Our commitment to providing 100% affordable housing demonstrates our dedication to creating lasting, positive impacts in our community.”
1250 West Jeff, designed by Stanley Saitowitz | Natoma Architects, is portrayed in conceptual renderings as a contemporary low-rise structure with a large amenity deck. An official website also indicates that SWA Group is serving as landscape architect for the project, which would add other open spaces and amenities for residents of the property.
The proposed new construction, slated to replace a parking lot, is planned to be large enough to serve as replacement housing for all 113 existing renter households at the University Gardens apartment complex. That would clear the way for Community Builders Group to redevelop the rest of the nearly 250,000-square-foot site at the corner of Jefferson and Vermont Avenue with 1,000 or more additional affordable units at a later date.
Also participating in the project is the SeaFlo Foundation, which was created by Seager and his wife Angelica Flores. The organization is to be funded by 10 percent of annual profits from the University Gardens property, with the fund to be managed by the California Community Foundation, and administered by an advisory board composed of Community Builders Group ownership and an unspecified number of community stakeholders. Potential investments for SeaFlo would include investments in community-based organizations and non-profits, as well as scholarships and youth development programs.
The project would represents one of the largest investments in affordable housing in the Exposition Park and Adams-Normandie neighborhoods in recent memory, following the completion of the 140-unit Rolland Curtis apartments near Expo/Vermont Station in 2019.
Properties located to the west of the USC campus have proven fertile ground for infill residential projects catering to college students, such as the 130-unit Jefferson Flats at 1320 W. Jefferson Boulevard and the 53-unit Tessera development next to Expo/Vermont Station. Those projects are predominantly market rate, but also include set-asides for lower-income renters in exchange for development incentives.
Community Builders Group, which is based in Pasadena, recently completed work on a micro-unit apartment complex in hometown which also caters to low-income renters.
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