Merced decision makers are set to consider a development on the corner of Loughborough Drive and Meadows Avenue that would create more than 160 new homes, as well as a medical and dental clinic.
The site was previously touted as having affordable housing next to the clinic, which many Merced residents have been pushing for more in an effort to address the city’s housing shortage and lack of affordable options.
A change of project developers has left this plan uncertain.
The future of the site will be shaped by Merced City Council in a public hearing scheduled for Tuesday’s council meeting.
The nearly 7-acre parcel is envisioned as a mixed-use project consisting of high-density multi-family units adjoining the dental and medical clinic, according to preliminary planning documents.
The housing portion is approximately 5.6 acres. A combination of two- and three-story buildings would include 68 one-bedroom apartments, 48 two-bedroom apartments and 45 three-bedroom apartments, totaling 161 units.
Elected officials are expected to decide to dedicate a percentage of units to affordable housing – even if the project is developed at market rate, as recommended by city staff.
Affordable units have fixed costs so low-income occupants spend no more than 30% of their income on housing.
The recommendation aligns with a new resolution approved by City Council in April that requires that at least 12.5% of market rate units be designated for affordable housing. Certain projects may be exempted at the discretion of the municipal council.
Although it was passed with the support of the majority of the city council, not all council members supported the new resolution. Councilman Kevin Blake said he objects to the policy’s similarity to inclusionary zoning – something he and other city council members have always opposed.
Members of the public can weigh in on the future of the project by speaking during the public comment portion of the public hearing.
City Council meetings begin at 6 p.m. at Merced Civic Center, 678 W. 18th St. Comments can also be emailed to [email protected] and delivered by voicemail by calling (209) 388-8688 at no later than 1 p.m. on the day. Of the reunion
Housing, dental and medical clinic is the latest of many site plans
The potential reversal of the plan for the North Merced project is the latest in the property’s history.
It was first annexed to the city in 1970 for commercial use, according to city documents. However, the plot has never been developed.
In 1986 the site plans were replaced by a proposed aged care facility. But that facility was never built either.
The city’s vision for the site changed again in 2006. High to medium density residential townhouses were envisioned. These too were never built and the site has remained vacant ever since.
New plans took shape last year, when an application for the current project was submitted by UP Holdings, LLC, on behalf of Ashley Investments, LLC.
The company intended to build both the accommodation and the clinic. That deal has since fallen through and UP Holdings is no longer attached to the project, according to the city.
The project was put on hold until April, when city staff were told the owner had purchased the plans and wanted to move forward. The landlord is working with another affordable housing developer, but no final agreement has been reached, according to city documents.
If an agreement is not reached with the new promoter, the owner will seek another one. However, as more deals are made, plans may change again. The clinic might be set up at a different time than the housing unit, and those units might not be affordable housing.
Project details include dog park, conference room and more
Draft plans for the project include an open space between buildings, an activity area, a dog park, a community lawn, and space for children to play near a community center building.
The community center would house a gymnasium, laundry room, kitchen, bathrooms, conference room and mail room. All features would be accessible only to tenants.
The medical and dental clinic would occupy approximately 1.3 acres on a separate plot from the apartments.
The clinic is envisioned as a 12,667 square foot space with 15 exam rooms, eight dental chairs, two chiropractic rooms, two behavioral health offices, an X-ray room, a laboratory, administrative offices and a reception area. .
The project was initially to include both the apartments and the clinic. Since the original developer is no longer involved, the project may not be built as an individual development but as two separate projects. This means that some design elements might change.
This story was originally published June 17, 2022 12:29 p.m.