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Cal Weber Project Will Give Downtown Stockton Needed Housing Boost

Originally appeared in the Stockton Record

Posted Sep 25, 2014 at 4:02 PM

The long fermenting desire to have more affordable housing in downtown Stockton just got hooked up to the proverbial development jumper cables.

It’s called the Cal Weber affordable housing project, named for the intersection of two prominent downtown streets.

This week, the California Tax Credit Allocation Committee gave the go-ahead to the project. Construction could begin within six months and the 40-unit complex could be ready for residents to move in by March 2016.

“We’re excited to see this project move forward,” City Manager Kurt Wilson said. “I think it’s a big first step toward getting people into downtown. This is really a well thought-out project.”

There is other downtown housing, but this project hopefully will spearhead the type of urban — hip, if you will — housing that is sought by many in other cities.

Cal Weber will be at the current location of the McKeegan Building and the Cal Weber Building, while also utilizing the former Land Hotel vacant lot.

While there has been limited trepidation voiced about the project, the general agreement is that this sort of complex — if successful — could lead to more developments.

As one downtown developer stressed: “It’s going to create more street-level vibrancy.”

The equation for a successful downtown Stockton must include the housing element. There are entertainment options (an arena, ballpark, movie complex, theater and more) as well as restaurants (although more are needed).

Charter schools have set up shop downtown, with the area teeming with children during daytime hours.

The waterfront area continues to be a concern, especially with the current putrid smell of decaying algae.

But there are many people working to bring vibrancy to downtown Stockton. The Cal Weber project could be a great next step.

 

State Approves Affordable Housing Project In Downtown Stockton

Originally appeared in the Stockton Record 

Posted Sep. 25, 2014 at 12:01 AM

STOCKTON — Downtown advocates for years have dreamed of residential housing in the heart of Stockton, creating a center-city buzz and a humming urban ambience.

A decision Wednesday by a state body in Sacramento is expected to bring the decades-long wait for such a development to an end. The proposed 40-unit Cal Weber affordable housing project is a go.

Construction could begin in six months and residents might be able to start moving into the complex by March 2016, Chris Flaherty and Danny Fred of DFA Development said after learning of the nod from the California Tax Credit Allocation Committee.

“We’re excited to see this project move forward,” City Manager Kurt Wilson said. “I think it’s a big first step toward getting people into downtown. This is a really well thought-out project. It’s going to get more people on the street, make it safer and make it more inviting for more projects like this in the future.”

The complex will be located at the southeast corner of Weber Avenue and California Street. It will boast solar-powered units, a computer lab and a playground for residents’ children. Residents also will have private parking.

It will be the first new downtown affordable-housing project in years and will stand at the current sites of the McKeegan Building and the Cal Weber Building. It also will put to use a vacant lot formerly occupied by the Land Hotel, which was demolished two years ago.

Though the developers and city officials say Cal Weber could be just the needed spark for downtown reinvigoration, at least one business owner has reservations.

Kristyn Wilson, who owns a downtown insurance agency, said last week she fears Cal Weber will wind up as just another flophouse in the heart of the city and is waiting to be convinced otherwise. She also speculated willing residents might be scarce.

“I don’t think adding additional affordable housing is going to help,” she said. “People won’t come downtown because of the crime that’s downtown, the stigma behind downtown, the panhandlers downtown.”

But David Garcia of the Cort Group, another downtown developer, disagreed with her assessment.

“It’s important to realize this is going to be a well-managed project,” Garcia said. “It’s going to be for working families. … I hope people don’t immediately dismiss it as a project that’s not going to produce the desired results. It’s going to create more street-level vibrancy.”

Said Flaherty: “It will be a place where (residents) can work and afford to live. It will be a new product. It won’t be an old hotel converted to (single-room occupancy). It’s going to be something downtown Stockton can be proud of. It’s a catalyst.

“This is just the beginning, hopefully, of what is going to take place over the next 10 or 20 years.”

Contact reporter Roger Phillips at (209) 546-8299 or rphillips@recordnet.com. Follow him at recordnet.com/phillipsblog and on Twitter @rphillipsblog.

Cal Weber Project Nears Approval

Originally appeared in the Stockton Record
Posted Sep. 17, 2014 at 8:00 PM

STOCKTON — New businesses and attractions, some already operating and some preparing to open, are dotting downtown Stockton these days, ranging from a Mexican ice cream shop to a Filipino history museum.

Now, ready-made customers soon may be moving downtown, as well.

A proposed affordable housing development at California Street and Weber Avenue is on the brink of the government approval it needs for construction to move ahead.

Micah Runner, Stockton’s director of economic development, said he is encouraged by the prospect of affordable housing in the city’s core. It would be another step, he added, toward creating the vibrant downtown Stockton is seeking.

“It’s going to be organic, incremental growth — exciting projects here and there,” Runner said Wednesday. “Individually they don’t look like a lot, but as you build momentum you see some good things happening.”

It was in June that private developers released plans for the $12 million Cal Weber 40 project — a modern, new apartment complex boasting solar-powered units, a computer lab and a private playground for its residents. It would be the first new downtown affordable-housing project in years.

The developers have said that for Cal Weber to move forward, they would need to be successful in a competitive process to win tax credits from the California Tax Credit Allocation Committee.

It appears the developers have achieved their goal. The California State Treasurer’s office has recommended the Cal Weber project for approval, and the tax credit committee is slated to vote on the matter Wednesday morning in Sacramento.

Chris Flaherty of the DFA Development group declined comment this week pending the upcoming vote. Runner said, “We’re anxious to see final approval next week and see what happens.”

In June, Flaherty said if the tax credits were approved, construction could begin by early next year and the project could be ready for occupancy in early 2016.

The project would involve renovation of the 123-year-old Cal Weber Building and the 88-year-old McKeegan Building, and new construction in the vacant lot formerly occupied by the seedy Land Hotel, which was demolished two years ago.

Flaherty said retail businesses on the ground floor of the Cal Weber and McKeegan buildings would be able to maintain operations during construction and would be much more attractive to the public afterward. Plus, he said, they’d have built-in potential customers living in the same building.

“It has the feel of a new, urban project,” Runner said this week. “We have to create that activity and that flavor here.”

Contact reporter Roger Phillips at (209) 546-8299 or rphillips@recordnet.com. Follow him at recordnet.com/phillipsblog and on Twitter @rphillipsblog.