Long-awaited senior project making progress

Construction is well under way on East Park Street.

Construction is well under way on a senior apartment complex on
East Park Street that will cater to low- and very-low income
residents 62 and older.
Construction is well under way on a senior apartment complex on East Park Street that will cater to low- and very-low income residents 62 and older. The project is expected to be completed in the spring of 2011, but it has been a long time coming as project. Government and nonprofit officials gathered Sept. 13 at the site to celebrate the progress completed so far.

“We want to have seniors in as soon as possible,” said Dennis Lalor, the president and CEO of South County Housing, adding that construction crews are trying to get the roofs on before the first rain of the season to keep the project on schedule.

Pauline Valdivia, a Hollister city councilwoman and the director of the Jovenes de Antano senior center, said the need for senior housing became apparent in 1989 after the Loma Prieto earthquake. Then, the Mission Oaks Mobile Home Park was a senior complex and many of the mobile homes were damaged. There were few other places in town for low-income seniors to live.

“I can’t believe we are here after all these many years,” Valdivia said, of the project. “I work for Jovenes and I see the elderly when they can’t find a place to live, can’t afford to rent.”

South County Housing, a nonprofit affordable housing developer, initially received approval and financing for a senior apartment complex nearly a decade ago.

“We were to the point where we had all the financing,” Lalor said. “We were within a week of building when the building moratorium came about.”

The Hollister building moratorium started in 2002, after sewage leaked into the San Benito River, causing state officials to halt all construction within the city until a new wastewater treatment plant was built.

“We are really trying to make up for lost time,” Lalor said.

As city, county and planning officials gathered at the site, construction workers hammered away.

When completed, the two-acre Vista Meadow site will include 72 apartments that will rent for $450 to 650 a month. It will have a community center, gardens and a trellised barbecue area. The apartments will be available for seniors with incomes no greater than 30 to 50 percent of the area median income.

See the full story in the Pinnacle on Friday.

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