Thursday, June 14, 2007
Salinas’ first green roof will likely cover affordable apartments.
First Community Housing Inc. plans to build a 100 percent affordable, mixed-use development at the corner of Lincoln Avenue and West Market Street. In order to reduce energy consumption, the developer will plant several different native species on the roof of the 52-unit building.
Traditional, dark-colored roofs absorb more heat from the sun, thus increasing the need for air conditioning and electric cooling systems. Green roofs make buildings cooler, and increase energy efficiency.
Additionally, vegetation-covered roofs reduce ecological harm by controlling stormwater runoff. Jeff Oberdorfer, executive director of First Community, a San Jose-based nonprofit, says the vegetation will slow down and filter stormwater, and will last twice as long as a conventional roof.
The Salinas City Council endorsed the project in 2005, and developers expect to break ground on the building, called Gateway Apartments, in spring 2008. Rents will range from $300 a month for a studio to $520 a month for a two-bedroom apartment, and will depend on residents’ income. Each apartment will include its own deck, and tenants will have access to a computer lab; the ground floor of the complex will have 3,000 square feet of retail and office space.
On June 5, the Salinas Redevelopment Agency board approved an additional $380,000 loan to First Community. The City has committed $2.5 million to the $17.5 million project.
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Don Reynolds, Redevelopment Agency project manager, says the cool thing about First Community is that they often transform polluted brownfields—environmentally polluted sites—into ecological showcases. “They are not just building sustainable structures but they are reusing permeable land,” Reynolds says.
In addition to the eco-friendly roof, the Gateway Apartments will be built from recycled, non-toxic materials and will have energy efficient lighting and water fixtures.
Typically, First Community builds housing close to public transportation, and the Gateway Apartments are no different. The planned building is located near a bus depot and across the street from a planned hub that will feature commuter rails. The nonprofit’s Santa Clara County tenants receive an annual bus/light-rail visa called an “EcoPass.” Oberdorfer says he would like to see Salinas renters receive a discounted bus pass, too. He’s currently negotiating a deal with Monterey-Salinas Transit.
Reynolds hopes the development will attract people who work downtown so they can walk to their jobs. “Hopefully we’ll get people to work and live in one place,” he says, “the urbanist dream.”