Tom Butt for Richmond City Council The Tom Butt E-Forum About Tom Butt Platform Endorsements of Richmond Councilmember Tom Butt Accomplishments Contribute to Tom Butt for Richmond City Council Contact Tom Butt Tom Butt Archives
E-Mail Forum
World War II-era Housing Complex to be Transformed and Co-Developer for Richmond Prewar Nursery Named

World War II-era housing complex to be transformed

By Katherine Tam
West County Times

Article Launched: 11/15/2008 06:58:56 PM PST


Click photo to enlarge


Nystrom Elementary School in Richmond, Calif. on Thursday, November 13, 2008. (Dean Coppola/Staff)


One of Richmond's last World War II-era public housing complexes will come down, replaced by a mix of low-income and market-rate units for rent and townhouses for new homebuyers.

The four blocks of 102 single-story duplexes on Florida Avenue, known collectively as Nystrom Village, are outdated and pricey to maintain or retrofit, city officials say.

"All of them have passed their useful life," said Tim Jones, executive director of the Richmond Housing Authority.

In their place, the city plans to build about 400 units, half of which would be affordable public housing and half for other income levels.

Five duplexes will be spared from the wrecking ball and preserved for their historical significance, Jones said. The buildings likely will be used as community rooms.

A developer could be selected as early as February, and a contract signed next summer, said Steve Duran, community and economic development director. Officials will seek grants, loans and tax credits to finance the $161 million project.

Nystrom Village was built in the 1940s and supplied housing for workers at the Kaiser shipyards during the World War II home front effort. It is one of two permanent housing complexes still standing from World War II, the other being Atchison Village. The two- or three-bedroom duplexes are simple and no more than 820 square feet.

Federal funding has dropped more than 30 percent in the past two decades, making it harder for the city to maintain the housing, according to the Nystrom Village Redevelopment Plan. Diversifying the incomes of residents here will help support public housing in the long run and alleviate the stigma attached to low-income housing, officials said.

In its redeveloped form, the new Nystrom Village will have units for the poor and add to its inventory 150 units for seniors to make up for what will be lost at Hacienda, a senior housing building marked for demolition or reconstruction to make way for market-rate housing near public transit.

"When we're done, we will have completed the renovation of all our public housing," Jones said, adding that the city oversees six sites.

Construction would happen in phases. Block by block, tenants would be moved into other city-owned complexes or equipped with Section 8 vouchers to live on privately owned properties, Duran said. They'd be given the option to return once the units are completed, and then the city would move onto the next block. A formal relocation plan must win federal approval.

The complex is in one of Richmond's older neighborhoods. Surrounding buildings show wear and will be renovated to improve the neighborhood.

West Contra Costa Unified School District plans to build a $30 million campus for Nystrom Elementary using bond measure construction funds. The district is implementing green building technologies as part of the rebuild.

The 36-year-old MLK Community Center will be renovated and made more user-friendly at a $14.2 million cost, according to the city's capital budget.

And at the corner of Harbour Way and Florida Avenue, officials will restore the historic 65-year-old Maritime Child Development Center, one of the nation's first publicly funded day care centers that was opened to support women working at the shipyards.

Reach Katherine Tam at 510-262-2787 or ktam@bayareanewsgroup.com.

Co-developer for Richmond prewar nursery named

By Katherine Tam
West County Times

Article Launched: 09/18/2008 05:15:57 PM PDT


Two years after purchasing property that houses pre-World War II Japanese flower nurseries, Richmond has selected a third developer to transform the site in the south part of town into a mix of townhouses, condominiums and senior apartments.

Officials this week signed an exclusive right to negotiate agreement with Kingston LLC for market-rate and affordable housing. The parties have one year to evaluate the risks, pros and cons of the venture before signing a formal development agreement.

Kingston LLC, whose resume includes student housing at Stanford University and UC Berkeley, would join Eden Housing and the nonprofit California Housing Corporation of North Richmond, which are building the project's senior housing.

The Miraflores Housing Project calls for as many as 120 townhouses or condominiums and 90 apartments for seniors to rent at Florida Avenue and South 45th Street.

It's slated to be built on the 14-acre Sakai, Oishi and Endo nurseries where three Japanese-American, family-run flower-cut businesses operated for a century starting in 1890.

The collection of 70 greenhouses, homes and other structures is believed to be the last of its kind in the Bay Area and possibly the state.

The city used federal grants to buy the site about two years ago after the business closed. Vandals and looters preyed on the property at one point.

Construction on the new housing could begin late next summer, said Steve Duran, community and economic development director.

An environmental impact report is under way and due out later this year or next year.

Under a state requirement, the property would undergo cleanup before anything is built. State environmental officials have classified the site as a "brownfield," where pesticides, lead and petroleum-related chemicals have penetrated soil and groundwater.

The city plans to work with the state to try to honor the historic importance of the site, such as by saving or relocating some significant structures.

Reach Katherine Tam at 510-262-2787 or ktam@bayareanewsgroup.com.