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Seniors' Housing Proposed in Manhattan Beach

August 13, 1987|KAREN ROEBUCK | Times Staff Writer

Manhattan Beach will get its first housing complex for senior citizens if the city approves zoning and other changes proposed by a group of private developers.

Some residents have been lobbying the City Council for eight years to get affordable senior housing, and a city task force has found "an immediate and long-term need for affordable senior housing" in Manhattan Beach.

Millie Anderson, chairman of the Manhattan Beach Senior Housing Foundation, an advocacy group, said she is "very enthused" about the proposal, but said "this is just the tip of the iceberg of what is needed."

The developers want to build 46 one-bedroom apartments on one acre they own at Sepulveda Boulevard and Valley Drive, now the site of the Manhattan Beach Athletic Club for Men. The club, which has about 700 members, may be relocated. One of the developers, William Riddle, is a director of the athletic club.

The developers have asked the city for General Plan amendments, a zone change and zoning variances. Without them, the development will have to be smaller and rents will have to be higher, said Jason Lane, one of the developers.

The General Plan and zoning laws designate the property as commercial and single-family residential. The developers have asked that the property be classified as high-density residential.

Mayor Bob Holmes said he believes the City Council will approve the changes, but it may take two years for the developers to get all the needed approvals and financing.

Planning Administrator Steven Lefever said senior citizen housing developments in other cities typically have smaller units, higher density and fewer parking requirements than other residential developments. Manhattan Beach plans to draft a senior citizens' housing development ordinance to set such standards for future senior projects, he said.

"The seniors' project is the first of its kind in the city," he said. "It's a unique project in both design and concept."

Rents for the units have not been decided, but they will cover operating, construction and finance costs and a small profit for the developers, Lane said. In today's rental market, he estimated the apartments would rent for $550 a month--about $250 to $350 below prevailing rents, he said.

Unlike many of the senior citizen housing developments in the South Bay, however, the proposed development would be built by private business and would not require government subsidies. The developers said they can build the project without subsidies because they already own the land and they expect to make only a small profit.

The apartments will be leased to another organization, possibly the Manhattan Beach Senior Housing Foundation, which will operate the complex, Lane said.

Holmes called the proposal "a private sector response to a societal problem." Holmes announced the proposal last Friday, which he said was "my happiest day since I've been on council--honest. I think it's a major breakthrough in getting affordable housing for seniors."

Holmes, 41, has been on the council for seven years and served as chairman of a nine-member senior housing committee. After surveying Manhattan Beach residents, the committee gave the City Council a report last April saying there is a need for 159 senior housing units before 1990 and another 191 units in subsequent years.

The report also said that residents can afford no more than $500 a month for one-bedroom and studio apartments and not more than $700 a month for a two-bedroom unit.

Plans for the proposed project show an eight-building complex--including a recreation center that will be open to all senior citizens in the city.

Only 30% of the land will be covered by buildings, Lane said. The remainder will be for parking and landscaping.

Lane said that he and Riddle have been planning the complex for six months as a memorial to their friend and business partner, William A. Ross, who died of lung cancer last year and had spoken of building a senior housing development.

Ross, who lived in Palos Verdes Estates at the time of his death, had been a longtime Manhattan Beach resident, a real estate broker and an attorney who helped many local business people, Lane said.

The city staff is reviewing the housing proposal. No Planning Commission hearing has been scheduled.

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