LaValentina-SacramentoCA_HEROLocation:Sacramento, Calif.
Architects:David Baker + Partners and YHLA
Developer:Domus Development
Builder:Brown Construction
Number of units: 81
Unit mix:Studios, one- to three-bedroom units, and townhomes
Rents:$347 to $1,100

A blighted, contaminated site in Sacramento’s Alkali Flats area has found new life as a transit-oriented, mixed-use community that combines quality affordable housing with ground-floor commercial space.

Known as La Valentina, the 81-unit project is actually two developments in one: La Valentina Station, which offers 63 studio, one-, and two-bedroom units within two buildings; and La Valentina North, which comprises 18 three-bedroom units and townhomes. The units range from 408 to 1,091 square feet with private balconies, and are restricted to families that earn 30 percent and 50 percent of the area median income.

Today, the 1.23-acre project abuts an active light-rail line on a busy downtown street. But for more than two decades, the site had been empty, polluted, and crime-ridden. It also once housed auto repair shops that had contaminated the soil with high levels of mercury, arsenic, and lead, which the city of Sacramento spent $1 million to remediate.

La Valentina is Sacramento’s first near–net zero project, which means nearly 100 percent of the energy required by the residents and common areas is generated by rooftop solar panels. Other sustainable features include low-VOC interiors, LED fixtures, permeable paving, drought-tolerant landscaping, and on-site bike parking. The project is 100 percent occupied and has a waiting list.