By Tim Hunt
The 14-year journey reaches milestone at Pleasanton GardensUploaded: Dec 5, 2017
A Pleasanton institution dedicated to providing housing for low-income senior citizens ceased its operations last month and turned almost two acres of land over to the city of Pleasanton for more senior housing.
Pleasanton Gardens, Inc., a non-profit corporation formed 50 years ago on Nov. 30 by four churches, saw its last residents move into new housing across Kottinger Avenue earlier in November. Kottinger Gardens, the new project, provides state-of-the-art senior housing for our former residents.
Pleasanton Gardens, where I have served as board president for the last five years, formally deeded our land to the city as well as surplus funds totaling $286,000. This week, the city is scheduled to enter into a ground lease on that land with MidPen housing that will build and operate 52 new units in place of the 40 units we have operated since the early 1970s. The second phase of the transaction should close this week and then MidPen will began demolishing the existing units and building the new structures.
It’s been an amazingly long journey since the city started looking at its 50-unit Kottinger Place senior housing project that is now the site of the new project. That started in 2003 and Pleasanton Gardens, through our then-executive director Bruce Fiedler, was pulled into it.
As a member of one of the four founding churches, I joined the board in 2008 and met with city leaders in the spring of 2008 to check on progress. Despite plans to bring it forward that year, a task force-designed project didn’t reach the City Council until December 2009 when then Councilwoman Cindy McGovern blew it up.
The city and our board then agreed to a process to move forward that included a new developer. MidPen won that competition and proceeded to work with our board, the task force and the neighborhood on a new project. The city picked up an additional parcel of land and then added the former Regalia house to the project. MidPen’s point person, Abby Goldware, did a superb job of working with all interested parties to move the project forward to where the City Council could approve it.
With the additional land, there now are 130 units the north side that include units in a two- and three-story main building as well as cottages. When the second phase is completed, there will be a total of 182 units replacing the 90 units that were nearing 50 years of age.
The new units have heating and air conditioning (just wall heaters in the previous units) as well as being accessible for people using walkers or wheelchairs. The concept of accessibility did not exist when the two prior projects were constructed.
For some of my board colleagues, David Stark, Dolores Bengston and Chuck Deckert who served on the task force, it’s been a 14-year journey. The founding churches included St. Augustine’s Catholic, Lynnwood Methodist, First Baptist where The Rock now meets and GraceWay.
Our predecessors identified the need for low-income housing 50 years ago and did something about it. I am delighted, despite how long it took, to see the number of people served double. That’s great, but still way short of meeting the need—the waiting list is already full.