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University Heights Plans OK'd by Fullerton Planning Commission
Proposal includes three acres of land to build 42 affordable, for-sale homes for faculty/staff housing

March 17, 2005

The Fullerton Planning Commission has approved plans by the Cal State Fullerton Housing Authority to build 42 for-sale homes for the university's faculty and staff members. The “paired” homes are planned for the hilltop site now occupied by the Fullerton Elks Lodge.

Through an arrangement between the Elks and the housing authority, the Elks will provide about three acres of land for the new homes in return, in part, for funds to build a new Elks Lodge on the same site. The University Heights project now moves to the city council for final approval.

William Dickerson, executive director of the housing authority, said the arrangement with the Elks Lodge is unique in terms of university housing, but is the key that will allow the authority to offer the homes to faculty and staff members at prices significantly below comparable homes in the Fullerton area.

“Without the availability of good housing in good neighborhoods, such as that planned for University Heights , the university cannot attract the quality faculty and staff necessary to make the school competitive for top talent on a national basis,” Dickerson said.

"University Heights establishes a financing model for affordable housing that may very well be the prototype for future housing in Orange County and California."

Faculty and staff members who reside at University Gables, the CSUF community in Buena Park the housing authority built and opened in 2002, attended last week's Planning Commission meeting and were among those who spoke on behalf of the new project. Some described how University Gables factored in their decision to either join the faculty or continue teaching at CSUF.

“We consider it a huge blessing,” said Cliff Cramp, assistant professor of art who served as founding president of the homeowners association. “On a personal level, it has allowed me to own a home and pay for it and made it possible for my wife to stay home with the kids. There's a really nice sense of community here.” Cramp underscored the “importance” of the University Heights project for retention, as well as recruitment.

As part of the Elks-housing authority arrangement, the Elks would have a new 13,000-square-foot lodge valued at approximately $3 million dollars built adjacent to the University Heights neighborhood. Additionally, the Elks will receive ongoing payments from the authority over a 99-year period to pay for the remainder of the land's fair market value.

Dickerson described University Heights as a pedestrian-oriented neighborhood of three and four-bedrooms homes of up to 2,136 square feet with private outdoor patios, side yards and exterior decks. The urban neighborhood will be served by a fully landscaped loop road and include a multipurpose community building, pool and spa, picnic and covered patio areas and outdoor barbecues.

He noted that the homes that will not be subsidized by any government funding and will be sold at about $150,000-200,000 below market value on a ground-lease basis, with restrictions on resales to maintain the homes' affordability.

Along with providing attainably priced housing for university faculty and staff, Dickerson said University Heights will showcase public/private collaboration among the City of Fullerton, Cal State Fullerton , CSU Housing Authority, Orange County Affordable Home Ownership Alliance, Neighborhood Housing Services of Orange County and the Elks Lodge of Fullerton.

“ University Heights establishes a financing model for affordable housing that may very well be the prototype for future housing in Orange County and the state of California ,” said Bart Hess, director of the Orange County Affordable Home Ownership Alliance. “This is a very creative workforce housing development, and we are pleased to be part of the financing through our pre-development loan fund.”


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