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New Pacific Station North affordable housing breaks ground in Santa Cruz – Santa Cruz Sentinel

The groundbreaking for Pacific Station North, a new 126-unit affordable housing and mixed-use development, was honored with a ceremonial groundbreaking Monday afternoon. (Jessica A. York — Santa Cruz Sentinel)

SANTA CRUZ – The final phase of the transit-oriented Pacific Station redevelopment project – including 126 units of new affordable housing – kicked off Monday afternoon with a groundbreaking ceremony and site tour.

Santa Cruz City Economic Development Director Bonnie Lipscomb will present the groundbreaking for Pacific Station North's residential and mixed-use development on Monday.  (Jessica A. York Santa Cruz Sentinel)
Santa Cruz City Economic Development Director Bonnie Lipscomb will present the groundbreaking for Pacific Station North’s residential and mixed-use development on Monday. (Jessica A. York — Santa Cruz Sentinel)

The complex, more than two-decade-long downtown mixed-use project will include two seven-story, 80-foot buildings: Pacific Station North and Pacific Station South. Monday’s timely ceremony, which falls within Affordable Housing Month, marked the groundbreaking for Pacific Station North, at 920 Pacific Ave. Developers aim to complete the latest project by September 2026, at an estimated cost of $119.2 million.

During ceremonial remarks Monday, U.S. Rep. Jimmy Panetta said the Santa Cruz project was an example of what he described as “all hands on deck,” from all levels of government. Federal funding that Panetta helped usher in included HOME Investment Partnership Grants, Section 8 housing vouchers and a $2 million Community Project Grant. The project also benefited from $53 million in federal low-income tax credits.

The new project’s neighbor, Pacific Station South, is nearing completion on its 70 apartments, which city officials say will begin leasing in July.

Mayor Fred Keeley also spoke at the ceremony, putting the length of the Pacific Station planning process into perspective by noting that his new summer office intern wouldn’t be born until two years after work first began on the project began, around 2001. He added that groundbreaking developments like the one Monday were a preview of what the city would see in the next decade, after long turning its back on such efforts.

City officials expect Pacific Station North, Santa Cruz's newest affordable housing project, to be completed by September 2026.  Its neighbor, Pacific Station South, could start leasing 70 units as early as July.  (Jessica A. York Santa Cruz Sentinel)
City officials expect Pacific Station North, Santa Cruz’s newest affordable housing project, to be completed by September 2026. Its neighbor, Pacific Station South, could start leasing 70 units as early as July. (Jessica A. York — Santa Cruz Sentinel)

“Now we’re turning toward it, to embrace housing, to embrace the kind of values ​​that are consistent with the values ​​in our community,” Keeley said. “Affordable housing is being built, housing that will house the missing middle that has been virtually impossible to house in our community for a few decades – and that is now coming online. You see a concrete pumper in every direction.”

The mixed-use development, which will include ground-floor commercial and office space as well as a new bus ticket station and office, represents a partnership between Santa Cruz and the Santa Cruz Metropolitan Transit District. Metro’s downtown bus interchange was demolished and services moved to the street corner over the next few years to make way for the new project. The new metro station will be expanded with 22 bus lanes.

The project will be designed as an all-electric “green” development, with partners seeking inclusion in the state’s LEED system, which ranks sustainable design, construction and operations. In addition to other commercial and retail units on the ground floor, Pacific Station North will house a 2,358 square meter public cycling hub space. There will be a roof terrace on the seventh floor.

No on-site parking will be provided for users, a charge from government regulators for affordable housing projects.

The apartments in the new building, aside from two manager units, will be limited to applicants earning up to 60% of the Santa Cruz median income — set by state regulators in April 2024 at $132,800. The housing types will consist of a mix of studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments for individuals and families and at least a quarter of the units’ residents will be provided with supportive housing facilities. The city of Santa Cruz will continue to own the land and leasehold of the various components of the mixed-use development, and Metro will own its own parcel, following a land swap with the city.

Overseen by developers Eden Housing and For The Future Housing, 32 units will be set aside for extremely low-income households, with 21 units targeted at individuals and families who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, plus 11 homes available to families through The Santa Cruz County Housing Authority Family Reunification Program. The remaining units will be limited to individuals and families earning less than 50% and 60% of the Santa Cruz County median income.