The 70 affordable apartments for seniors age 62 or older at the Victoria at COMM22 add another important piece to the multiphase, mixed-use planned development that nonprofits BRIDGE Housing Corp. and MACC and the San Diego Unified School District collaborated on. The team’s goal was to bring investment and life back to the streets of the city’s challenged Barrio Logan and Logan Heights neighborhoods where a former school district maintenance facility site sat mostly vacant for more than 25 years.
“This project is not just about building units—this project is about building community,” says David Alvarez, District 8 Councilmember for the city of San Diego. “The site was the very definition of blight, and sat in the middle of this community untouched for years. It is a long time coming.”
Discussions in 2003, with the school district issuing an RFP. Before buildings could be constructed, the developers improved the area infrastructure through changes to the streetscape, storm drains, water and sewer lines, and power lines.
Opened this past March, the Victoria adds 40 studios and one- and two-bedrooms at affordable, below-market rates, and 30 one-bedroom apartments with HUD subsidized rents. Several units are equipped with features for those with mobility, hearing, and/or visual impairments. Several on-site amenities improve the quality of daily, independent living: a courtyard; community room with programmed activities such as nutrition counseling, healthful cooking, and exercise classes; laundry; library/sitting room; meal delivery; and 4,500-square-foot day-care facility to spark intergenerational contact.
The design of the low-rise Victoria was made purposefully cheerful with a cubist-style façade in lively colors, a mix of materials, and big windows that emulate the neighborhood’s industrial and warehouse designs but in more contemporary fashion, says Jeff Williams, senior project manager. The building also complements the vibrant Paseo, which added 120 units of affordable family housing in the same COMM22 development.
The development also includes a health clinic, ground-floor retail space, colorful artwork, and a stop on the city’s mass-transit trolley system. The final housing pieces will be 11 for-sale affordable townhomes and 30 market-rate rental lofts in a repurposed 1929 warehouse.