Grand Opening of Camino del Mar & Vista del Mar Hallmarks Nearly Two Decades of Community Revitalization Effort at Dana Strand
Abode Communities and Mercy Housing California, together with the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA), celebrated the grand opening of Camino del Mar and Vista del Mar, 176 service-enhanced affordable family homes in the Wilmington neighborhood of Los Angeles.
Attended by U.S. Representative Nanette Diaz-Barragán, California State Assemblyman Mike Gipson, City of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, and Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino, this event marked the fourth and final phase of the New Dana Strand Revitalization, fulfilling HACLA’s grand vision for the redevelopment of a 20.7-acre post-war distressed public housing site in a once disenfranchised neighborhood plagued by gang violence and poverty. The social, economic, and physical transformation of the area included 25 newly constructed multifamily residential buildings on eight infill parcels that are expected to serve some 750 low-income people with affordable housing and onsite resident (social) services.
“The completion of the Dana Strand revitalization effort makes good on the City’s promise to the hardworking families who live here: safe housing that doesn’t break the bank. Today, we are proud to reopen the doors of a development that has been a part Wilmington for generations,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti.
Councilman Joe Buscaino continued, “The completion this undertaking was monumental, and with the introduction of such attractive affordable housing we see a bright future for this pocket of Wilmington with more local jobs and amenities to follow.”
HACLA’s long-term redevelopment vision brings the social, economic, and physical transformation of a once gang-ridden community plagued by blight, crime, and disinvestment in a neighborhood where the current median household income is $41,303 and more than 24% of families live below the poverty line. Early planning began in 2000 when the agency embarked on an ambitious goal to transform 68 dilapidated buildings with 384 severely distressed affordable apartments once used a military housing after WWII. The housing was demolished with HOPE VI funding the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development, which set the framework for the redevelopment.
Doug Guthrie, HACLA President and CEO stated “Dana Strand is an example of how a strong public-private partnership can share in the creation of catalytic projects that are building our communities in the harbor area and throughout Los Angeles. This redevelopment has brought new life and greater opportunities to our residents and its long-term positive impact will be a testament to the fortitude of the Wilmington community, the depth of commitment of the many nonprofits working with us to deliver housing and services of this caliber.”
Today, the site creates a robust, mixed-income community featuring 120 garden-style affordable family homes (Harbor View Place); 116 affordable family townhomes (Wilmington Townhomes); 100 senior apartments; a 10,000 square foot community center operated in partnership with Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Centers; and the newly opened Camino del Mar and Vista del Mar infill development.
Robin Hughes, President & CEO noted, “We received more than 3,000 rental applications for the 176 units we’re opening today.” She continued, “This number is staggering and demonstrates a deep and continued need to create affordable housing opportunities for hard-working Angelenos and their families.”
The major revitalization effort prioritized community need through an engagement process ranging from the Dana Strand Revitalization’s early project planning to the final implementation of Phase IV’s Camino del Mar and Vista del Mar. The developers hosted a variety of community and stakeholder project planning and architectural design meetings, created resident/community advisory councils, engaging property management and resident services staff members, and established and maintained relationship with the Los Angeles Police Department Harbor Division, among more. The resulting residential communities now feature increased security presence, site fencing with improved common lighting, secure gated entry, parking/speed deterrents, and a master-planned neighborhood feel that promotes “eyes on the street.”
As a result of engagement and continued relationships with the community and LAPD, in the 24-block community surrounding the Dana Strand Revitalization, Part I crimes were reduced by 56% and gang-related crimes by 63% between 2001 and 2011. Doug Shoemaker, President of Mercy Housing California remarks “As long-term owner/operators, we have a commitment to this community and the success of our residents. Our relationships with the LAPD have truly helped us meet our commitment to the neighborhood at-large.”
The Camino del Mar and Vista del Mar represent a major investment to both complement and grow the foundation of community-wide success with service-enhanced affordable housing serving the needs of those who need it most.
The $71 million residential development was made possible by permanent financing through a variety of private and public funding sources, including Abode Communities Housing Fund, California Debt Limit Allocation Committee, California Tax Credit Allocation Committee, Citi Community Capital, City of Los Angeles Housing + Community Investment Department, Low Income Investment Fund, Mercy Loan Fund, U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corporation, and U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development. HACLA is a major underwriter of the developments, offering 174 Project-Based Section 8 Choice Vouchers and 67-year capitalized ground lease loans.
Camino del Mar & Vista del Mar are anticipated to receive a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)® Gold rating from the U.S. Green Building Council. This amenity rich community features more than 35,000 square feet of open and recreational space; direct connections to Wilmington Waterfront Park; transit connectivity; and an abundance of onsite amenities such as a playgrounds, community gardens, and secure bicycle parking. Abode Communities also offers its signature resident (social) services program, Beyond Homes, which helps residents remain stable in their housing as they work to achieve self-sufficiency. These on-site services include youth after-school and summer enrichment programming, adult capacity building, community engagement, healthy and green living workshops, among more.