A proposed new senior housing development in East Mesa would bring affordable rents to east Mesa for residents who are at least 55 years old, while upgrading an area in need of revitalization.
With these goals in mind, the Mesa City Council recently committed $500,000 in federal housing funds to the Broadway and Hawes Senior Housing Development proposed by Dominium, a Minnesota developer that specializes in affordable housing.
The three-story development would have 237 units. The federal money allocated to Mesa, along with $21 million in federal tax credits allocated to the Arizona Department of Housing, would allow Dominium to obtain another $31 million in private financing needed to complete the housing development, said Liz Morales, Mesa’s housing and community development manager.
Dominium’s development would be the first senior housing financed in this manner in East Mesa, she said. What makes such projects so appealing is that the rent must be affordable for tenants earning no more than 60 percent of the area’s median income.
Mesa Mayor John Giles said the council has placed a priority on encouraging development of affordable senior housing in East Mesa.
“Because there is additional money to the development, we ask that you roll that back to the project,” Giles said. “This is an area that could use a $55 million construction project.”
He described the area as having some older mobile home parks and said it was in need of some redevelopment.
“I’m sure you will fill up very quickly,” Giles said.
Councilmember Dave Luna said Mesa has made out well with the Encore senior housing project near downtown, but it is important not to cluster affordable senior housing in one part of town.
“I have been a proponent of placing them on the east side. There has been a lot of saturation on the west side of the city,” Luna said. “We need to begin with a good project. It’s a litmus test for them.”
Luna said he believes there is a need for more affordable senior housing, but not necessarily more assisted care facilities, which tend to put heavy strain on the Mesa Fire Department as residents encounter serious health problems.
Pete Nelson, a Dominium development associate, said the council’s commitment is vital to moving the project toward completion.
Nelson said the subsidized financing arrangement helps Dominium keep rents low, but the development will not offer assisted living.
Nelson told the council that Dominium plans to include a private van service that would take residents to supermarkets and to other appointments. A similar arrangement is used at the company’s properties in Minnesota.
If the financing progresses as planned, Dominium would begin construction in East Mesa in August and the development would be finished by the end of 2020, Nelson said.
“It’s very strong demand in the pricing,” he said. “Across the country, we are seeing empty nesters who want to get into a smaller apartment.”
Dominium manages more than 30,000 apartments in 22 states. The company is based in the Twin Cities and advertises several of its new Minnesota properties on its website.
Nelson said that Dominium has six properties in Arizona and recently completed the rehabilitation of a senior housing complex in Tolleson.