A 38-unit apartment building is proposed at 844 and 850 Almar Ave. in Santa Cruz.

A 38-unit apartment building is proposed at 844 and 850 Almar Ave. in Santa Cruz. (CRP Affordable Housing and Community Development)

SANTA CRUZ >> At a community meeting Tuesday, developers unveiled plans for a three-story building that could bring 38 affordable homes to the Westside.

An apartment complex called Almar Village is planned at 844 and 850 Almar Ave. The vacant, triangular, 0.91 acre lot is bounded by Almar Avenue, Rankin Street and the Coastal Rail Trail. A separate proposal across the street at 831 Almar Ave. includes 120 homes, industrial space and shops at a former tea factory.

Santa Cruz Vice Mayor Renee Golder said a three-story building at 844 and 850 Almar Ave. was a “reasonable size” compared with some other Santa Cruz developments. 

“I think we can all agree that there’s some new projects that are kind of shocking,” Golder said. Several proposed projects, including a five-story redevelopment of the Food Bin on Mission Street, have provoked widespread community backlash.

The building at 844 and 850 Almar Ave. would include 38 units rented at 30% to 80% of area median income. Income limits are not yet specified because they vary with state, federal and other definitions. 

The proposal It includes: 

  • 20 two-bedroom apartments.
  • 18 three-bedroom apartments.
  • 38 parking spaces with access from Almar Avenue.
  • A children’s play area. It’s not yet clear whether the play area would be public or for tenants. 

The parking lot, playground, and trash collection area would face Almar Avenue, said Howai Lai, an architect with Oakland-based Studio T-Square. The building would “kind of shield the single-family homes across on Rankin” Street from noise, Lai said.

City planners will likely require the developers to build a wider sidewalk around the lot, said Rina Zhou, a City of Santa Cruz associate planner.

Some people who attended the meeting said the development did not include enough parking for residents. 

A photo of the lot at Almar Avenue and Rankin Street in Santa Cruz.

An apartment complex is proposed at Almar Avenue and Rankin Street in Santa Cruz. (Stephen Baxter — Santa Cruz Local)

A site plan depicting the lot at Almar Avenue and Rankin Street.

The lot at Almar Avenue and Rankin Street is 0.91 acres. A proposal includes a three-story building and surface parking. (CRP Affordable Housing and Community Development)

The 38 parking spaces are “what we’re able to accommodate on the site without a massive change to either the building structure or overall site layout ” that could make the building taller, said Josh Ralls, a project manager with San Diego-based developer CRP Affordable Housing and Community Development. “It’s kind of a balancing act to maintain the building size, the density, as well as being able to provide still a legitimate amount of parking for the site,” Ralls said.

Because the development is near a bus stop with frequent service, city planners cannot require new parking by state law. The project would include storage for bicycles and electric bikes, Ralls said. The site is adjacent to the Coastal Rail Trail. Some other developers and lawmakers have said that bus stops and bike routes draw renters who don’t use cars.

City planners are reviewing plans for the development submitted April 9, said Zhou. Once staff have deemed the plans complete, they will be considered by the Zoning Administrator in a public hearing.

A rendering of the proposed building at Almar Avenue and Rankin Street.

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Reporter / California Local News Fellow | + posts

Jesse Kathan is a staff reporter for Santa Cruz Local through the California Local News Fellowship. They hold a master's degree in science communications from UC Santa Cruz.