Meeting the housing needs of low- to moderate-income seniors in Marin County, Calif., one of the nation's most expensive housing markets, is an undisputed challenge.
But that didn't stop RHC Communities from doing just that in the redevelopment of the historic Hamilton Army Air Field in Novato. The stakes were high: three other developers had failed to rehabilitate the property, built in the 1930s and abandoned since the mid-1970s.
But RHC and its partners made the Villas at Hamilton work by proposing and executing an undeniably creative solution—combining senior housing apartments with self-storage units—that will generate ongoing revenue for the $23 million adaptive reuse project.
The Developer: David Rose, COO, RHC Communities, Tustin, Calif.: The first hurdle? “Convincing the surrounding community and City of Novato that the project would complement the original vision of the master plan ... and that we could rehabilitate the structures and preserve the original architecture that was created when they were built in the early 1930s,” says Rose, COO for RHC, which develops and manages affordable workforce and senior apartment communities.
The firm, which paid $3 million for the 2.6-acre parcel, won over local opposition by making multiple presentations and providing tours of projects that had successfully addressed similar concerns.
Land and buildings for the Villas were acquired in 2000, with the yearlong construction commencing in 2002. Rents for the now-completed villas range from $695 for a 469-square-foot studio to $1,149 for an 802-square-foot two-bedroom unit. The villas are 97 percent leased; the storage units, 90 percent.