A small apartment complex for senior citizens that city officials and the developer hope will upgrade an aging Jessie Street neighborhood has been approved by the San Fernando City Council.
"I want to put an apartment owners association on that block," said Severyn Ashkenazy, vice president of Zevco Construction, the local company given the right develop the city-owned lot at 222 Jessie St., along with another property the company owns in the same block.
Such an association might improve the neighborhood in the 200 block of Jessie Street, which city officials now describe as blighted, Ashkenazy said. Both lots are vacant.
The development agreement gives Zevco the city property plus $381,000 to build 16 apartment units on the two sites. The apartments must be maintained for at least 30 years as affordable housing for senior citizens, who would pay $439 in monthly rent.
The agreement was approved unanimously by the City council Monday night, despite concerns by Councilwoman Joanne Baltierrez.
"I don't think we are getting what we should for seniors," said Baltierrez, who raised questions about the project's financing and whether the apartments would be affordable to senior citizens. She suggested that a nonprofit group develop the project.
Robert Kishita, associate city planner, said the city, which has been trying to develop the property for two years, had sought proposals from 17 nonprofit groups, but none were submitted. "It's a question of scale," Kishita said, explaining that the site is too small for such groups to build a large project.
"I think we have a quality program there," Councilman Doude Wysbeek said. "I don't think we're giving away the store."
Kishita said the city is hoping that the project will fit into a revival of an area near San Fernando Junior High School targeted as a focus neighborhood. Under that program, the city makes available low-interest loans and grants to improve the image of the neighborhood.
The focus neighborhood program was started 1 1/2 years ago, but was derailed by the Northridge earthquake.