City council approves Grand View Village housing development for Downtown Stockton

A Stockton City Council vote will help two Stockton-based developers take the next step in redeveloping downtown and proving that the city’s revitalization movement can be homegrown.

On Tuesday, Dec. 16, a 7-0 vote approved separate $330,000 and $137,547 two-year loans to nonprofit developer Visionary Builders of California. The money comes from CDBG and HOME, federally funded block grant programs that give local governments the opportunity to bolster low-income housing and other projects that benefit the community.

Visionary Builders will use the money to kick-start work on a 100-unit affordable housing and retail complex at 228 and 240 N. Hunter St. called Grand View Village. Plans from the Stockton-based builder envision six stories with 100 apartments for families and individuals making less than 60 percent of the area’s median income — or $2,994 a month for a family of four. A grocery store and café are possible tenants for the ground floor, according to Zac Cort, whose company Cort Group helped Visionary secure the deal.

Grand View Village is a proposed mixed-use affordable housing project along Miner Avenue in Downtown Stockton

Grand View Village is a proposed mixed-use affordable housing project along Miner Avenue in Downtown Stockton

The new building will have frontage on Hunter Street, Miner Avenue, and San Joaquin Street. The Delta Hotel on Miner Avenue and the structure housing Donaldson’s Tire Company on Hunter Street will be purchased privately and demolished, but the building that’s home to the Avenue Inn bar on the corner of Hunter and Miner will remain, creating a hodgepodge of old and new on the north half of the block that speaks to Stockton’s eclectic character.

Stockton Economic Development Director Michah Runner called the footprint “unique” and “meandering,” adding that “This is sometimes what infill looks like.”

Runner added that the building will be somewhat pioneering, including solar technology and a rooftop daycare center. Carol Ornelas, CEO of Visionary Builders, hopes the Grand View could completely make over a block that, despite being across the street from the Cinemark 16 theater and a close walk from the redeveloped waterfront, has not lived up to its economic potential.

“This piece of property has been a very big nuisance,” Ornelas said. “I think this partnership with Zac Cort and his team is bringing some very innovative things to the area.”

One of the buildings the Grand View will replace is the Delta Hotel — an aging but in-use facility not among the hotels the city closed several years ago because they were literally falling apart. Cort, who called the hotel “poorly managed,” said anyone living there would be given assistance to find new housing when it came time to tear down the Delta.

Cort said the Grand View will improve one of the “most heavily traveled locations in downtown” and will raise the overall profile of the city in the mind of developers and investors.

“I think it’s one more step toward what we’re trying to accomplish in downtown,” he said. “It’s bringing vibrant retail and much-needed residential, and it’s a new build. It’s going to be a dominating, beautiful structure.”

Council members unanimously praised the project, which could start seeing work as soon as March 2016 if Visionary Builders qualifies for affordable housing tax credits this summer. Visionary Builders is also counting on money available through a statewide cap-and-trade tax on carbon pollution, the proceeds of which are given to developments that reduce greenhouse gas emissions by building within existing transportation infrastructures.

It’s clear that capturing this creative blend of funding sources is critical to overcoming one of the obstacles cited repeatedly by those looking at downtown development — making the project pencil out financially. Apparently, the still-unsecured affordable tax credits, environmental money, and city loans will be enough to push the Grand View over the thought-to-reality hump.

The city council unanimously approved Grand View Village on Dec. 16th

The city council unanimously approved Grand View Village on Dec. 16th

Although the project is still years away from construction, it’s closer to fruition than many other proposals to retrofit or replace downtown buildings, many of which are beyond reasonable repair. Though there are several ways to save (or at least honor) the architecture that makes downtown Stockton unique, cost and return-on-investment have been stumbling blocks to renovating buildings built before earthquake and other safety codes were in place. Better to have a functional, vibrant building that’s new, than a derelict, degraded one — even if the aging building’s features are filled with character and charm.

There’s much to applaud in the project’s particulars. Namely, 36 one-bedroom, 38 two-bedroom, and 26 three-bedroom housing units for people with depressed incomes that are within walking distance of the closest thing Stockton has to a hub for social services and public transportation. It not only puts people with modest means nearby resources, it also will put more people downtown at all hours of the day, a building block for turning the neighborhood into more than a daytime business district.

Visionary Builders’ project isn’t the market-rate housing that typifies many visions of Stockton’s downtown of the future, but it’s a step toward creating a more socioeconomically diverse urban core — one that contains decent housing, as opposed to the many flophouses in the area that have fallen into disrepair. (Note to the Cort Group and Visionary Builders: When finding tenants for Grand View’s ground floor, it’s vital that the retail offered fits the budgets of those living upstairs, especially if that retail is a grocery or a market.)

Overall, the Grand View looks like a potential win for the city of Stockton. If executed as planned, it can be pointed to as proof that life can indeed be injected into downtown, and proof that revitalizing the city’s long-neglected core doesn’t need angel investment from some other place — it can start right here, with homegrown talent and a little creativity.

*Disclosure: David Garcia and Kristine Williams, who both write for SCL, are also employed by The Cort Group and Visionary Home Builders, respectively. 

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Categories: Development News

Author:Jon Mendelson

Jon was born and raised in Stockton. He returned to the city following four years of college at Loyola Marymount University, in Los Angeles. He is an award-winning columnist and the former editor of the Tracy Press newspaper in Tracy. He currently is associate director of Central Valley Low Income Housing Crop., which assists homeless families and individuals. He lives in Stockton's Miracle Mile district.

4 Comments on “City council approves Grand View Village housing development for Downtown Stockton”

  1. Jon Seisa
    December 18, 2014 at 9:17 pm #

    Very well done, this is a much more tasteful and architecturally appropriate design for Downtown Stockton’s historical character, rather than that atrocious white and canary-yellow Cal-Weber 40 sore-thumb/eye-sore, completely out of character for urban Stockton. Seriously, I hope they redesign that bizarre structure before it’s built, because it looks like a cross between a cheap motel and an industrial business park building with 8” thin floors.

    It is impressive to know the vote was unanimous on the Grand View Village, and that the city leaders are on the same page and moving forward.

    I hope the residents will have subterranean security garage parking, rather than street parking.

    One design recommendation, though, the corner needs an architectural clock turret.

    Regarding the restaurant and grocer tenants, they should either put on the main floor a Carrows Family Restaurant noted for its diverse and affordable American cuisine fare, or a Mimi’s Café with its homey French Provincial and American Country fare; and a Trader Joe’s Grocery Store which is value-oriented and affordable, offering HEALTHY food choices, instead of typical big grocery store junk foods packed with the cancer accelerant “high fructose corn syrup” [HFCS], cancer generating Monsanto GMO’s, casein, growth hormones and other cancer causing carcinogens and free radical agents that destroy the immune system and also cause obesity and diabetes. TJ’s offers great organic options, and also honors EBT purchases. Also, Trader Joe’s is environmentally minded encouraging shoppers to bring their own bags or recycled shopping totes.

    Now next, the city needs to start generating new downtown residential construction for higher income brackets to bring professionals with higher disposable income downtown to accelerate the urban economy and quantum leap the cultural arts scene.

  2. lea kemperman
    May 15, 2015 at 11:10 am #

    I live above the bar at miner and hunter. Please let me know what is going to happen with my building. I finally found a place to start over at after staying at homeless shelters. Now I am hearing all kinds of rumours. What will be done with us now that the building is sold. I don’t know what to believe any more. Thank you for your time, Lea Kemperman

    • January 7, 2016 at 4:38 pm #

      Lea…according to the report, ” the building that’s home to the Avenue Inn bar on the corner of Hunter and Miner will remain, creating a hodgepodge of old and new on the north half of the block that speaks to Stockton’s eclectic character.” Looks like you can stay or maybe they’ll offer to relocate people into the new building. Hope you are well.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. AHI: United States » Folly or catalyst? Part 3, “Something Downtown Stockton can be proud of” - May 15, 2015

    […] second affordable-housing and retail project, dubbed Grand View Village, could break ground a year from now if all goes according to the developers’ plans. Grand View is […]

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