Placer Supervisors advance proposed multi-family housing development project in North Auburn

Published on June 27, 2018

Continuing Placer County’s commitment to creating solutions for attainable housing, the Board of Supervisors yesterday approved county staff to move forward with a proposed multi-family housing and workforce housing development project in North Auburn.

The board unanimously approved an option to ground lease agreement with Mercy Housing California that could lead to the development of a 79-unit, family-orientated apartment and townhome project on 3 acres of county property at its government center campus. 

The designated property is located on the east side of 1st Street, between Bell Road and D Avenue.

Mercy Housing was selected from six respondents by a panel of representatives from the Placer County Executive Office, Department of Public Works and Facilities, Department of Health and Human Services, Community Development Resource Agency and the Placer Community Foundation.

The proposed development would include three three-story apartment buildings and seven two-story attached townhomes with a wide range of income limits and achievable rents, ranging from 30 – 60 percent of the average median income. It would also include a multipurpose community building, parking and common green spaces with outdoor play equipment.

In a presentation to the board, county staff also noted that 15 units would be set aside for special needs housing, which could be eligible for $1.5 million in funding under California’s No Place Like Home Program. The Placer County Adult System of Care would provide case management for residents associated with the state program.

“We’re really excited about this,” said District 3 Supervisor Jim Holmes. “We want to get this thing going as soon as possible.”

The board’s action does not commit county funds to the project, but the proposal includes a contribution by Placer County toward the project valued at $2.1 million in the form of a long-term, low-cost lease and development impact fee waivers and credits. The county contribution of 3 acres of land is potentially valued at $1.5 million.

The agreement approved today includes a two-year ground lease option to allow Mercy to access the site as it prepares a project proposal and works to secure financing. The county’s support allows Mercy to pursue a federal tax credit of 9 percent. If the project proceeds, the agreement includes the option of a 99-year ground lease for $1 a year. Mercy Housing would be responsible for all utility costs, taxes and assessments, and the development, construction, operation and maintenance of the facility.

The project would be part of a reimagining of the Placer County Government Center, which envisions brand new campus amenities like an event center; consolidation of county buildings; open space to preserve the area’s natural foothill aesthetic; and non-county land use such as mixed-use residential housing, hotel and commercial retailers. 

The development would be analyzed as part of the overall Placer County Government Center Master Plan Update environmental impact report. The EIR is expected to be available for public review and comment this summer.

Several opportunities for public review of the housing development will be offered should the project move forward. 

The board directed staff to finalize funding negotiations for the project and return with a funding agreement for their consideration at a later date.

In a related item, the board also received an update on the Placer County Government Center Master Plan, with a focus on an associated draft environmental impact report and proposed multigenerational community center in North Auburn.

A feasibility study for the multigenerational community center found that there is general public interest for a center, but a funding source for the center has yet to be identified with a survey indicating there is low interest from the community for a local self-imposed revenue source. Space for a facility like the community center is being included in the master plan update and environmental impact report in case a funding source to build and operate it becomes available.

The master plan for the 200-acre Placer County Government Center campus was last updated in 1993. The campus was originally the site of a World War II-era U.S. Army hospital complex that was in use for two years before the end of the war. It was then used as a state psychiatric hospital, and eventually deeded to Placer County by the State of California in the early 1970s. Since then, the county has striven to be a good steward of the campus, using the buildings to provide county services, and replacing a number of them over the years with more modern facilities. A portion of the campus has also been leased for private use by Home Depot.