Iron Works Apartments – Low-income housing project could break ground in SLO next winter

March 31, 2016

Iron Works Apartments Rendering with Title block San Luis Opisbo

A rendering of the affordable apartments approved for a vacant lot on Broad Street. The Housing Authority of San Luis Obispo recently closed escrow on the lot and hopes to break ground on the rental homes next winter. Scott Smith, Housing Authority of San Luis Obispo Rendering courtesy KTGY Group, Inc.

The Housing Authority of San Luis Obispo has closed escrow on 1.6 acres of vacant land in San Luis Obispo with approved plans to build 46 affordable apartments geared toward low-income, local households that can’t afford market rents.

“We hope that it can serve somebody earning as low as $10 to $12 an hour but also as high as $25 an hour,” Executive Director Scott Smith said.

The project, called Iron Works, includes two, three-story residential buildings on a 1.6-acre vacant lot on the east side of Broad Street, about a quarter mile from Tank Farm Road, on a parcel that was recently subdivided into four lots across the street from the Damon-Garcia Sports Fields.

The Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 403 union has retained two parcels at the rear of the site at 3710 Broad St.; the Housing Authority’s property is now at 3680 Broad St. The lot, most recently owned by Hand-McCarthy LLC, was assessed at $1.1 million in the 2015-16 tax year, according to the San Luis Obispo County Assessor’s Office.

Smith declined to disclose the purchase price for the land. He estimated the project will cost about $17 million.

The San Luis Obispo Planning Commission approved a use permit for the project on April 8, 2015. The city’s Architectural Review Commission also reviewed and approved the project May 4, 2015.

The three residential buildings, each about 9,800 square feet, will include 12 one-bedroom units, 19 two-bedroom units and 15 three-bedroom units ranging in size from 557 to 1,030 square feet, according to a city staff report. Interior courtyards will be located in the center of each building, with another courtyard between the buildings with a play area.

The design is described as a contemporary interpretation of the commercial-industrial architecture that exists in the surrounding neighborhood, and the project will use corrugated metal and fiber cement siding, industrial style windows, metal awnings and railings and metal trim panels.

In addition, a single-story, 4,400-square-foot commercial building was approved to be constructed along Broad Street. Smith plans to work with the city to increase the size of the building to 8,000 to 10,000 square feet so that a portion of it could be used as office space for the Housing Authority, which has outgrown its Leff Street location.

He hopes construction could start on the apartments by December or January, wrapping up about 18 months later. The Housing Authority won’t start taking applications for the apartments until about four months before the units are complete, he said.

The Housing Authority will use income guidelines from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. At the moment, Smith said, income limits range from $24,075 to $32,100 annually for a one-person household to $34,380 to $46,000 a year for a four-person household, but those numbers could change by the time applications are taken for the apartments.