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The Gasser Foundation, in conjunction with developer Burbank Housing, announced plans to build a 50-unit affordable housing development in south Napa.

The project, to be called Stoddard West, will be located north of Home Depot and Tulocay Creek, and west of the planned Gasser Drive extension over Tulocay Creek. The development will cost an estimated $24 million.

Stoddard West is named after Vernice “Pat” Gasser, a daughter of the prominent Stoddard family. Napans Peter and Pat Gasser established the Gasser Foundation in the 1980s.

The project will consist of a new three- and four-story residential building housing 50 affordable family apartments.

“Affordable housing is probably the hottest button in Napa and will be for the next five to 10 years,” said Gasser Foundation President Joe Peatman.

“Right now, the need for affordable housing is impacting residents’ well-being. Burbank Housing has the experience and commitment required to help meet that need in our community,” he said.

“The need for affordable housing is growing throughout the North Bay,” said Marianne Lim, director of housing development at Burbank Housing. “This community will put safe, comfortable housing within reach for more Napa residents.”

A new affordable housing complex is great news, said Kathleen Dreessen, the executive director at Napa Valley Community Housing, which develops and manages affordable housing developments.

“It’s what we really need, especially for people who are low income,” Dreessen said.

When tenants are forced to pay more than 30 percent of their income, “that means they are struggling to pay for food, medicines, transportation … fundamentals we all take for granted,” she said.

Peatman said the Foundation’s goal is to create homes for “local people working here who can’t afford to live here otherwise.” Peatman said first consideration for leasing will be given to the local workforce and residents.

In order to qualify for a home at Stoddard West, applicants must be at or below 60 percent of the Area Median Income, depending on family size. At that income level, a family could pay between $458 and $1,748 per month in rent, depending on family size and income.

The building also feature common spaces, management offices, surface parking, a children “tot” lot and a raised planter gardening area.

Various types of landscape ground cover, trees and shrubs will be provided throughout the project site, said the project plans.

The project will include 15 one-bedroom units, 20 two-bedroom units (five of which are two-story townhouse style) and 15 three-bedroom units.

The plans describe the architecture as a “contemporary style that reflects the agrarian roots of the Napa Valley.” Materials will include stucco, corrugated metal siding and asphalt shingle roofing.

Spaces to park an estimated 100 cars, including 24 tandem spots, will be included. Each unit will be assigned one covered parking stall.

Peatman said that Burbank Housing agreed to buy the land from Gasser for $2 million. Gasser, in turn, will donate $2 million to the cost of the project.

Affordable housing projects are difficult to develop, said Peatman.

“It’s hard to find the land. It’s really hard to finance” such a project. The Gasser Foundation is able to create such a project because of its partnership with Burbank, it had the land, and more importantly, “That’s what we do,” said Peatman.

Santa Rosa-based Burbank Housing has built nearly 4,000 affordable rental units and has helped to create more than 800 affordable homeownership opportunities since its founding nearly 40 years ago.

Today, it manages more than 60 properties. Burbank’s Napa County projects include affordable housing projects Oak Creek Terrace on First Street in Napa and Palisades apartments in Calistoga.

The Gasser Foundation, which also developed the South Napa Marketplace, South Napa Century Center and surrounding areas, contributes between $1.5 million and $2 million annually to local hospitals, hospices, homeless shelters and cultural organizations throughout the county.

If approved by the city, construction at Stoddard West could begin as soon as early 2018.

According to the city, there are an estimated 1,600 affordable housing units in Napa. Napa Valley Community Housing offers 17 affordable housing developments in Napa County, representing 616 units.

“We have waiting lists of hundreds of people for each property, so much so that we’ve had to close our waiting list for 99 percent of our properties,” said Dreessen.

“While Napa used to be a blue-collar, affordable town, it isn’t any longer. It hasn’t been for quite some time,” she said.

With vacancy rates being so low, workers are forced to commute longer and longer distances, she said.

Dreessen said the co-development is a good partnership, with Burbank Housing having worked in Napa before. In addition, “We know the Gasser Foundation also has an excellent reputation.”

While 50 new units won’t solve the affordable housing needs in the community, it will make a difference to those 50 families, she noted.

“Every little bit helps,” she said.

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Business Editor

Jennifer Huffman is the business editor and a general assignment reporter for the Napa Valley Register. I cover a wide variety of topics for the newspaper. I've been with the Register since 2005.