Alicia Klein, one of RCD’s Associate Directors of Real Estate Development, recently had the honor of showing Governor Newsom our new project, A link to: Clara Gardens. Located in the City of Santa Clara, the former Bella Vista Motel is being renovated to serve as transitional housing for a year or two before RCD fully renovates it and develops the site into permanent affordable housing.
In partnership with the A link to: County of Santa Clara and A link to: Project Homekey through the State of California Housing and Community Development Department (HCD), the former motel will provide transitional housing for 67 homeless households. The award of Homekey funds supports the purchase and renovation of the motel as well as funding on-site supportive services.
While providing transitional housing, RCD will also continue to move forward the second phase of the development which will provide 120 permanent affordable homes. The proposed project includes the renovation of the existing motel and the development of a new 7-story building. The development will provide a mix of studios, 1-, 2- and 3-bedroom apartments for low-income households including approximately 25% of the units set-aside for households transitioning out of homelessness.
“The Bella Vista Inn project really showcases the essence of Homekey,” said Gustavo Velásquez, Director of the California Department of Housing and Community Development. “This motel conversion, with a whole suite of supportive services to get people back on their feet, is a huge opportunity to give community members in Santa Clara County a fresh start.”
Many thanks to our partners, Van Meter Willams Pollack, the John Stewart Company, and Abode Services, for their invaluable contributions to this development and its services for residents.
RCD has a successful track record of transforming former motels into thriving permanently affordable housing communities. One of RCD’s first developments was Erna P. Harris Court in 1995. Located on University Avenue in Berkeley, the development consisted of the acquisition and rehabilitation of the former Bel Air Motel, with a new construction component that included apartments and a new community room. The property provides 35 service-enriched apartments for low-income and formerly homeless households.
In 2013, RCD acquired and renovated a former motel in the city of Alameda. The Park Alameda was transformed from a blighted motel with no common amenities into a new, secure affordable housing community with a community room and open space. The apartments include built-in kitchen islands, Energy Star appliances and efficient hydronic heating, and residents benefit from on-site property management and resident services.
Most recently, RCD has been moving forward our Bell Street Gardens project in Fremont. Slated to start construction in late 2022, Bell Street Gardens will provide 128 new apartments through the renovation of an existing motel and an adjacent new construction building. These new homes will provide affordable apartments to low-income households including 32 households with special needs.
If given the opportunity to live a long life, most of us will experience times when we need help and times when we are fortunate enough to offer support to others. Lola, a resident at Victory Village in Fairfax, RCD’s newest affordable housing community for seniors, is one such person.
“All my life, I only wanted to do positive things,” says Lola.
Raised locally with four siblings, Lola had a long and dedicated career as a certified nurse assistant. However, in her later years, she fell on hard times and lost her home. Lola also lost her right leg above the knee due to inadequate medical care when a bug bite became infected. Lola spent 5 years living in shelters, a challenging life made more so because Lola needs a wheelchair to get around. Determined to find stability in her life, she worked tirelessly with her counselor to find housing.
“I asked for every application. Even though some of the places said they were closed, I called and said I understand you’re closed but can you please send me an application.” And then one day a woman called and said, “the list is open again.”
Lola was overjoyed when she learned she could get a new apartment at Victory Village in the fall of 2020. “I’m so happy I actually made it. I did everything required and stayed focused, and I made it” says Lola. “My focus helped me get here.”
Now Lola has friends in her new home, receives regular medical care, and benefits from the care of a home health aide. “I’m more at peace now,” she says.
While many might only know Dan Hardy as our enthusiastic Director of Systems and Technology, his history at RCD runs much deeper. He joined RCD in 2015 as Associate Director of Real Estate Development, left briefly to pursue other passions, and returned in late 2018. With the completion of Quetzal Gardens, a development that he was instrumental in bringing to fruition and several recent tech milestones, it’s time to spotlight Dan’s great work.
What was the catalyst for developing Quetzal Gardens?
Dan: RCD had been trying to break into the South Bay for some time. We were building key relationships but couldn’t find the perfect site. I was working with a broker and scouring listings nearly every day when I saw the site that would become A link to: Quetzal Gardens. It was right next to a brand-new bus rapid transit (BRT) line and in an A link to: Urban Village. Dan Sawislak, Carolyn Bookhart, and I went down to San Jose and we really liked the Quetzal Garden site the best.
How did the partnership with SOMOS Mayfair (the non-profit moving into Quetzal Gardens) begin?
Dan: We had this requirement to include a large amount of commercial space. We thought it would be perfect for a local non-profit. Through the local councilmember, we connected with A link to: SOMOS Mayfair. From that first meeting, I started to work closely with Camille LLanes-Fontanilla from SOMOS and Tamara Alvarado from the A link to: School of Arts and Culture (across from Quetzal Gardens) to move the project forward. SOMOs had outgrown their space and were looking for a new home. They ended up being incredibly helpful in moving the project forward.
The role of the Systems and Tech department, which was already vital, grew substantially overnight when RCD began working 100% remotely in March 2020. Since then, Dan and team member Coco have updated RCD’s remote access systems, moved to a new donor database, a new mass communications tool and a new accounting system – and ensured everything new connects to and through Salesforce.
How do manage working on so many critical projects across the organization?
Dan: Our work is all about problem solving, everything is a problem that needs to be fixed. Working on all those problems with a fully remote team, it’s important to also catch-up on a personal level. Coco and I always have a great time catching-up on fun stuff before getting into work in our twice-weekly meetings.
What does the future of your technology work look like at RCD?
Dan: Moving forward, I hope to focus on business process improvements which is really what lights me up. The future of companies is standardized processes, meaning that we simplify processes, make them as automated as possible like we’re doing in salesforce. We’re also becoming a more data centric organization with more quantitative reporting.
Complete the sentence
A fun fact about me is: I drink a green smoothie almost every day. My go to recipe is frozen fruit, oatmilk, spinach, yogurt, avocado and fruit juice.
My favorite outdoors area in the Bay Area is: the Steep Ravine to Dipsea Loop (in Marin). Go to Stinson Beach, have a piece of pizza and then walk up Steep Ravine.
A fun RCD memory is: the time that a bunch of us did the Sacramento Century Bike Race. We trained together and then had a group that had a 37-mile crew and a 100-mile crew.