San Jose Provides Affordable Senior Housing
Mabuhay Court Senior Housing is an example of creatively combining apartments and senior services in one location. The apartments include underground parking and are located directly adjacent to the multi-purpose Northside Community Center that was rebuilt to accommodate and blend-in with the new units. A meditation garden preserves the site’s existing oak trees and provides a majestic setting for reflection and relaxation.
Mabuhay is an innovative mixed-use public/private partnership between the City of San José and BRIDGE Housing Corporation. The building is unique in that it combines two separate uses, 96 very low- and extremely low-income senior housing units, with a brand new 16,000 square foot community center that provides senior services to the community and residents. Mabuhay met the challenge of achieving attractive below-market priced homes for 19 extremely low-income and 77 very low-income seniors.
This development has helped to revitalize a neighborhood by skillfully blending landscaping, restoring an existing senior center, and constructing new housing for senior residents. The building was also designed to integrate into the single-family homes in the surrounding neighborhood. Design features include placing walk-up stoops along 7th Street, mimicking the homes across from the development, and individual gardens in front of the stoops to create variation along the front of the building, similar to the homes across the street. In addition, by combining the housing and community center in one structure, the developer was able to achieve 96 units in a three-story structure rather than a four-story structure, fitting into the surrounding neighborhood character.
The development contains several green building features, including operable windows, sun shades over windows along the southern and western sides of the building, linoleum (rather than vinyl) flooring in the common areas, fluorescent lighting throughout, and on and off light timers in the common areas.
Mabuhay Court won the prestigious 2004 Builder’s Choice Project of the Year and Grand Award for Active Adult Community from Builder magazine and the 2004 Maxwell Award of Excellence from the Fannie Mae Foundation. The 24th annual Builder’s Choice award winners were selected based on innovative architecture, site-sensitive design, quality of construction, sense of community within the development, as well as social concerns, and density requirements.
Mabuhay is located within the Japantown Strong Neighborhood Initiative (SNI) area – one of 26 SNI areas in San José – and is also within a redevelopment area. The Strong Neighborhoods Initiative is a commitment made by the mayor and the council to unite with San José communities to strengthen neighborhoods by listening to and responding to their vision of citywide priorities.
The development was the result of a community-driven plan, designed by the City and the community collaboratively. The project involved replacing a city corporation yard and obsolete community center with an attractive new and expanded community center and high-density senior housing that is compatible with the surrounding low-density residential neighborhood. Combining the two uses allows seniors in the development to easily access many of the activities occurring in the center, including classes on aging, finance, dancing, nutrition, and the meal program provided at the community center. The community center is available to all city residents and provides seniors with the opportunity to meet others from all over San José.
The City of San José sold the nonprofit developer, BRIDGE Housing Corporation, air and subterranean rights over approximately 1.1 acres of the site together with a 50 percent undivided interest in the remaining 1.71 acres. The City retained surface rights to the portion where the new city-owned Northside community center is located. The innovative structure of this sale enabled BRIDGE to locate parking for Mabuhay Court underneath the community center building and housing units over a portion of the center. It also enabled both the housing and the community center to be built in one phase. BRIDGE’s architect, David Baker and Associates, worked in concert with the Filipino-American Senior Opportunities Development Council, Inc. (Fil-Am SODC), the long-term operator of the existing community center, in the design of both the new center and the housing development.
Mabuhay Court would not have been successful were it not for an effective partnership between the developer’s team, the city, the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco, the construction and permanent lenders, and the equity investor. City processes were expedited to enable the developer to obtain timely approvals required to start construction without delay, and in coordination and design of the proposed city-owned community center. The process involved effective internal coordination between several city departments.