2007 MFE Awards
Project of the Year: Mixed-Income

Retirees, conduit operators, gardeners, fish clerks, receptionists, students, waiters, bakers, cops, seamstresses, teachers, medical assistants, screenwriters, pastors, dentists, and construction workers—they all call Avenue 26 home. Located on the Los Angeles Gold Line, the master community of 534 affordable and workforce apartments and condominiums literally rose from the ashes of an abandoned industrial site, left to the roaming gangs and drug dealers of its Lincoln Heights neighborhood.

“It's tough to look at that site and see Avenue 26,” admits Percy Vaz, president of Agoura Hills, Calif.-based AMCAL Multi-Housing, the site's developer. “But that is precisely what we do—in tough neighborhoods, particularly. We try to transform these areas into workforce housing and affordable housing, so generally, by our own definition, we are forced to go where other developers dread to tread.”

Admittedly, a 12-acre site in Los Angeles County doesn't come along everyday. And AMCAL—along with L.A.-based co-developer W.O.R.K.S. and the San Juan Capistrano, Calif.-based Foundation for Affordable Housing—maximized their opportunities. Three separate affordable apartment complexes reserved all 370 units for households that earn 30 percent to 60 percent of the area median income, while the Puerta del Sol Workforce condominiums attracted a range of buyers, 40 percent of whom used some type of affordable housing financing.

To meet the tight income requirements, AMCAL did extensive multilingual marketing across diverse ethnic areas in the L.A. basin. The result has been a successful community melting pot: All of Avenue 26's apartments are occupied and 90 percent of the condos have been sold. “We never ran into any problems with prospective residents like people think you do in mixed income,” Vaz offers to others considering their own Avenue 26. “Our residents are fully aware that there are all kinds of incomes, and I think they like that.” And everyone, as it turns out, is beginning to like Lincoln Heights—Avenue 26 has completely revitalized the neighborhood, spurring six additional residential and mixed-use developments in a neighborhood that went for a quarter-century without any new construction.

Fast Facts

  • Builder: AMCAL General Contractors
  • Developer: AMCAL Multi-Housing, Foundation for Affordable Housing, W.O.R.K.S.
  • Architects: Van Tilburg, Banvard and Soderbergh; Newman, Garrison, Gilmour + Partners
  • Opened: November 2006
  • Units: 534
  • Unit Mix: One-, two-, three-, and four-bedrooms
  • Prices: $389 to $1,206 to rent; $249,000 to $530,000 to buy

    Judge's Verdict“WHAT'S REALLY EXCITING ABOUT THIS PROJECT IS WHAT IT HAS TRIGGERED IN TERMS OF DEVELOPMENT OF ADJACENT PARCELS. AMCAL SHOULD BE VERY PROUD OF WHAT THEY'VE STARTED.”

    —Dave Woodward, CEO and managing partner, Laramar Communities