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Community leaders relished the opportunity this month to thrust a sledgehammer against a decaying building that stands in the location where a new $2.9 million affordable housing complex will be built in St. Helena.

“Not all impulsive buys are bad,” said Larry Turley, who donated the Pope Street property to Calistoga Affordable Housing (CAH) to oversee the project. He and his wife, Suzanne, had learned about the eviction of eight families from the building in November 2011 because of code violations that caused the building to be red-tagged. They decided a week later to purchase it in a forced sale by auction in December 2011.

An April 7 groundbreaking ceremony at the property at 1105 Pope St. was not only a small step in addressing the greater region’s affordable housing needs; it also marked a project that will be overseen by groups in both Calistoga and St. Helena.

“I’m looking forward to having affordable housing under our belt in town,” said Noah Housh, St. Helena planning director.

In July 2012 Turley sold the property to CAH for $1 with a sales covenant that the property be developed for affordable rental housing.

“It takes the right thing at the right time,” said Diane Dillon, Napa County supervisor. “The county made it a priority to get affordable housing wherever we could.”

The 13,000-square-foot Turley Flats Apartments will be funded through a variety of sources, including a construction loan from First Community Bank of Santa Rosa and residual loans from the City of St. Helena and Napa County housing funds. Local foundations such as the Gasser Foundation, Clif Bar Foundation, Napa Valley Community Foundation, and DeLong Sweet Family Foundation also contributed more than $200,000.

The small size of the development, at eight units, precluded developers from seeking certain federal and state funding sources or tax credits, sending CAH to seek funding from sources closer to home.

The City of St. Helena is putting $700,000 into the project, including $50,000 to cover any cost overruns.

Small infill projects like this are as difficult as large projects to get approved, maybe even more difficult, said Mayor Alan Galbraith, based on the complexities of the development.

Headed by Paul Coates (of Paul Coates Construction in Calistoga), the CAH Design and Build team started in July 2013 to design and “construct an economically efficient and low construction cost building that would meet local standards and expectations,” the group said in a statement.

The chosen design by Farell Faber and Associates of Santa Rosa, combined with their modular division HybridCore Homes, is a first for the St. Helena area, with a square-foot cost of $224 and individual apartment unit costs of $359,400.

More than one HybridCore home has been built in Calistoga. Developer Shaun Faber of New Vine Homes, who is also partner and co-founder of HybridCore, said the modular units are made of green and sustainable materials.

They are built off-site, which reduces construction time, minimizes the disruption to neighbors and greatly reduces the project’s carbon footprint by reducing the number of truck deliveries.

Another advantage of the modular approach is that the factory units are purchased at a set amount and are not subject to the potential costs overruns of more traditional projects.

The anticipated completion date of the Turley Flats project is September 2017, and the project’s general contractor is Helmer and Sons of Angwin.

The three-story, 12,794-square-foot building has a ground floor parking garage with storage, handicap lift access, and a small covered area for social events. The building is designed to be energy-efficient, with gas and Energy Star appliances including a front-loading washing machine and dryer in each unit.

The modular living units are being built at the Silver Crest Champion factory in Corona, California, and feature 6-inch exterior walls and heat pumps for HVAC in each unit.

Monthly rents, set at the HUD 75 percent of the area median income, are $1,391 for a two-bedroom and $1,607 for a three-bedroom, said Larry Kromann, president of Calistoga Affordable Housing.

Crown Realty of Napa is the property management company that will conduct the application process and use a lottery system with a three-tiered preference process, with the highest preference being given to the eight families who lived at 1103 and 1105 Pope St. on Nov. 20, 2011. Seven families were evicted for housing safety code violations and one family was allowed to remain.

The second preference will be given to the employees of the Turley vineyard in St. Helena, which was part of the agreement in the land sale from the Turley family to CAH. The third preference will be those living or working in St. Helena. All families applying must meet the HUD low-income criteria for Napa County.

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The Weekly Calistogan Editor