Since 2003, AMCAL has revitalized forgotten sites in urban infill and rural/suburban locations throughout California to attract more investment and develop livable neighborhoods. The housing it typically builds has been affordable rental and workforce for-sale, and almost all its projects represent public–private partnerships with funding from the state via low-income housing tax credits. Many of its developments have also received soft funds from cities and counties eager to help overcome their area's housing shortage.
In building Terracina Apartments in Los Angeles, the developer and partner W.O.R.K.S., a 501(c)3 nonprofit that focuses on building quality affordable housing, took an ugly, 3.1-acre vacant lot with contaminated soil in a run-down part of the city. Together, they transformed it into an attractive, three-story, low-income residence with a bus stop in front of the building and a trolley station half a mile away.
Because the long, narrow site could be seen from Imperial Highway, a major road, Withee Malcolm Architects designed the building to mitigate its potentially massive looks by constructing "smaller, colorful buildings put together to resemble an Italian village and also be a nod to its older neighborhood," says Dan Withee, a firm partner who helped develop the concept.
Many sustainable choices led to the building's LEED Gold certification, including humidistats on timers, to avoid wasting electricity, and xeriscape landscaping, which takes into account the state's climate and serious drought conditions.
Apartments are available in one-, two-, and three-bedroom configurations and lease for 14% to 22% less than comparable market-rate units, with the exact monthly rent based on a sliding scale. Fifteen of the 72 apartments are reserved for youths transitioning out of foster care, who find securing affordable housing difficult.
Because developers of low-income housing understand the value of social interaction, there are several places at Terracina to bring residents together—a courtyard with playground, large turf area, barbecue/picnic area, indoor lounge, computer lab, and kitchenette. Additionally, a social services office offers professional counseling, computer and English language classes, and after-school child care.
The units leased up quickly.