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Ground Broken in Community Involvement on New Genesis

By Eric Richardson
Published: Tuesday, March 30, 2010, at 02:46PM
New Genesis Groundbreaking Eric Richardson [Flickr]

Representatives from the City and the building trades join Skid Row Housing Trust in a ceremonial groundbreaking for the New Genesis housing project.

The Skid Row Housing Trust held a ceremonial groundbreaking for the New Genesis Apartments this morning, but the Main street project represents more than just another affordable housing development.

"We had a very different process in developing this building," said Molly Rysman, the non-profit developer's Director of Special Projects. Community involvement in the project's planning helped craft an affordable development that sets out to integrate into its Downtown neighborhood.

"We had many meetings with the neighborhood council and with other stakeholders in the community to find what the vision was that folks had for what this community would look like ten, twenty, thirty years from now," Rysman said. "The two main things we heard from pretty much everyone we talked to in the community were mixed income and mixed use."

The 106-unit, $22.3 million building will offer permanent supportive housing for formerly homeless individuals, but it will also include two retail spaces and a number of units reserved for artists making up to 60% of the area median income. One of the retail spaces will be built out as a restaurant, while a use for the other has not yet been set.

The first step is the demolition of the existing Genesis, which sits on the east side of Main street between Winston and 5th. The New Genesis project will roughly double that building's footprint and unit count, taking over a parking lot just south of the existing structure. The design by Killefer Flammang Architects includes 98 efficiency units and eight one-bedroom apartments.

The project is the first to be bound by a new Community Redevelopment Agency policy designed to promote local hiring on construction jobs.

Rysman said that the Trust will repeat the New Genesis involvement process on future projects. "I don't think any of our developments should be a canned model," she said. "I think we really need to sit down with the community with each individual development we do and talk to folks about what they see, what they need at that time."

Demolition of the Genesis will start in earnest in the late part of April. The New Genesis is expected to be completed in August of 2011.


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