KINGSBURG – A plan to bring up to 60 more senior housing units to town will be discussed at the Sept. 5 Kingsburg City Council meeting.

Council held a workshop Aug. 30 to talk about the proposal with Fresno Housing Authority’s Michael Duarte and had talked about the project already at an April 4 meeting.

Kingsburg City Manager Alex Henderson said the 4.84 acres on Sierra Street and South Madsen Avenue was purchased by the city when a Redevelopment Agency was still in existence and the land was set aside for low-income housing.

Although some building and plot designs had been proposed when the Chelsea Investment Corporation was attempting to build there, Duarte was on hand to get input on all the previous ideas, get the ball rolling on a formal agreement and bring an updated plan back to Council.

Duarte is the FHA’s senior development manager and said their role would be to handle all the logistics of the development including securing entitlements, building plans and financing.

Since the Housing Authority has already partnered with Kingsburg to build Marion Villas, Duarte said he was confident a similar arrangement could be made for this second location.

“I feel confident about this new project we’re talking about,” he said at the workshop.

Three proposals were presented. One had 48, single-story units, a second had 58, two-story units with a soccer/baseball field and a third called for 48 units and included a playfield in front. The majority would be for low- to moderate-income housing, five of the units would be sold at market rates.

“The property allows up to 60 units,” Duarte said. “This one shows 58 units. It doesn’t have to be that many. Chelsea Development was proposed at 48 units. So one of the questions is ‘how many units are too many?’”

The housing complex could include an elevator in its two-story structures to free up land for more green space, but that may or may not appeal to seniors with mobility issues, he said. There is also a cost factor of creating two-story buildings to consider.

“I was thinking about cost,” Councilman Bruce Blayney said. “It would be cheaper to not have an elevator and not have a second story.”

Duarte agreed that single stories are cheaper to build and maintain, but those use up more space and would cut down on space that could be used to create a community park.

A proposed community center included in the design features a laundry room, health care room, storage, computer room, kitchen, manager’s office and bathrooms.

Mayor Michelle Roman said she liked that idea as the center could be used for community events and the location would make it easier for seniors to participate.

“We would have a place whether someone wants to have a cooking class or fitness class that everybody could use. And then the seniors can be part of it as well. It’s great to have those kinds of classes people can offer that’s right there and accessible for [the seniors] as well.”

The complex’s architectural theme was also discussed as the city continues to prefer a Swedish feel in its town structures.

“Marion Villas has that unique look that fits in with the downtown area, but obviously we don’t want to replicate the same look again for this,” Mayor Roman said. “Having a Swedish architect design is important to stay with the Kingsburg theme, so [the new senior complex] should be something that stands alone and has that unique look.”

Since the new complex is situated on a major entryway coming into town, its curb appeal is another issue to address, Henderson added. And while he likes the idea of a large green space, the maintenance of that is something to keep in mind.

Council also discussed if Madsen Avenue would need to be re-aligned and moved to the other side of an existing canal so commuters could drive straight across Sierra Street. Also, there is the incoming Hash Housing project being developed to the south of the senior complex and how their street alignments and housing levels will affect this project.

Amenities such as a parking and the location of a rural bus loading zone were discussed.

Duarte said the plan now is to take Council’s input, revamp the design and come back to the next Council meeting for a more formal agreement.

“We’re taking notes. The next step is to capture as much of these ideas and come back and talk with you again so you can say ‘yes, this is closer,’ or ‘tweak this and tweak that.’”

Because the Housing Authority needs to meet deadlines to qualify the project for financing, they do need to reach a formal arrangement with the city sooner than later, he said.

The FHA needs to apply for the next round of tax credits for this project by March 1. The county will inform them of funding availability in January and they’ll know how much they’ve been awarded by late June, he said.

“I think it’s perfect timing to be talking about this. Hopefully, we’ll start before Christmas if all goes well. The project’s going to be there long term so we want to make sure to do a good job with it,” Duarte said.

The proposal will come before the Council again at a future City Council meeting.

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The reporter can be reached at 583-2427 or lbrown@selmaenterprise.com.

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