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.