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Sumida Gardens Workforce Housing Breaks Ground


After long struggle for approval, 200-unit apartment project is officially under way in Goleta.



Goleta city officials and the Towbes Group broke ground on the Sumida Gardens project Wednesday, marking the start of the construction of 200 rental apartments in the heart of Goleta.

“We are standing here today because of the hard work, tenacity and commitment of the city of Goleta and the Towbes Group to making affordable housing a reality in Goleta,” Mayor Michael Bennet told a gathering of about 50 officials, business leaders and citizens.{mosimage}

Located on about 10 acres just off the northwest corner of Hollister and Patterson avenues, the complex will consist of nine buildings housing 200 rental apartments. Thirty-four units will be earmarked for low- and very low-income households. The project will be connected to Hollister Avenue by an extension of Overpass Road, which runs along the north and west sides of the tract. Plans also include a signal light at the new intersection on Hollister.

The complex is within the city’s redevelopment area, a short walk away from Old Town Goleta.

“This is great,” said Craig Zimmerman, president of the Towbes Group, which has been seeking approval for apartments at the site for the last six years.

Plans to put rental housing on the site go back about 15 years, from a Santa Barbara County-approved plan for 176 affordable units to one with 200 units with 50 affordable apartments. The Towbes Group last year put in a General Plan amendment request to eliminate any inclusionary housing requirement for rental projects. State law, requiring at least 15 percent of units in a project in a redevelopment area be affordable, made the request infeasible. The 34 affordable units planned for by the developer exceed the minimum requirement by four units.

Despite some criticism of city spending to subsidize the project, Sumida Gardens received wide support — from housing advocates and employers who worry that the scarcity and high cost of housing is preventing the hiring and retention of good workers.

Zimmerman estimated that the Sumida Gardens project should be completed in a little over a year.

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