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San Diego City Council approves North Park senior housing project

SAN DIEGO, California -- The San Diego City Council on Monday afternoon voted unanimously to approve a 194-unit high-density development in North Park that will be LGBT friendly.

Councilwoman Marti Emerald was absent from the meeting.

The Arizona Street Development project by Community HousingWorks (CHW) comprises two sets of mid-rise buildings on either side of Texas Street that front Howard Avenue.

One building rising five stories will contain 76 apartments for seniors with the goal of appealing to LGBT seniors. The developer has partnered with The San Diego LGBT Community Center to assure that LGBT seniors will find the apartment complex is LGBT friendly and will provide a safe, inclusive and affirming environment for all residents.

The larger building rising seven stories will have 118 units, including 23 units dedicated to people who earn very low income.

Councilmember Todd Gloria, who represents District 3 where the complex will be built, praised the project and noted that it will be located a short walk to El Cajon Boulevard, where residents can hop aboard the new Rapid Transit bus that cuts down transportation times between San Diego State University and Downtown San Diego.

Gloria said it is important to support the needs of "trailblazing LGBT seniors" as well as get ahead of the "silver tsunami" that is beginning to swamp America's housing requirements for senior citizens.

Numerous national studies in recent years have pointed to a greater need for senior housing that is inclusive. Many LGBT elders, having lived an open and authentic life, fear having to go back into the closet to survive in senior housing.

The Center plans to offer on-site programs and services to all residents of the seniors building.

Councilwoman Lori Zapf quipped that it was amazing that the senior housing complex would be near McDonald's and Denny's, two restaurants popular with seniors. Other restaurants and shops are nearby, too.

Dave Gatzke, CHW's vice president of acquisitions, said that the project will now seek out tax credits and other financing options. Although he declined to estimate when groundbreaking might take place, he concluded that it typically takes 12 to 16 months before the financing can be completed.

To build the project, a long white building must be demolished on the northeast corner of Texas and Howard. The building formerly was a vocational school.

All of the speakers were in support of the project.