Mitchell Park Place Receives Development Approval from City of Palo Alto
March 14, 2022
Major milestone in affordable housing project for individuals with developmental disabilities
PALO ALTO, California – (March 14, 2022) — The City of Palo Alto granted land use entitlements to Mitchell Park Place, a new mixed-use affordable housing development for lower-income individuals with a particular focus on individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The project at 525 East Charleston Road will include office space for public social services and high-quality affordable housing for individuals and households earning at or below 80% of the area median income.
“This is a major milestone for Mitchell Park Place. It puts us one step closer to offering affordable housing to some of our most vulnerable community members,” said County Supervisor Joe Simitian, who proposed the project in 2020, and championed County funding for housing serving individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. “I’ve spoken with so many parents in the community who worry about what will happen to their children when they’re no longer around. We’re getting closer and closer to developing homes where folks can live safely and independently in their own community – with all the services they need to thrive.”
As part of the city’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, Mitchell Park Place will also prioritize much-needed housing for individuals with developmental disabilities, who often have limited incomes that make finding affordable housing extremely challenging and are particularly at risk of grave harm if they become homeless. The number of adults in Santa Clara County with developmental disabilities has grown by over 47% in the past decade, and is projected to continue growing. The need for affordable housing for people with developmental disabilities will inevitably increase in coming years.
Mitchell Park Place is located on land owned by Santa Clara County. Following a recommendation from the County’s Office of Supportive Housing, Eden Housing, a leading affordable housing nonprofit organization, was selected as developer by the County’s Board of Supervisors. The organization has partnered with AbilityPath, a nonprofit that provides a lifespan of support services to individuals with special needs and developmental disabilities, to provide services for this population on site.
“Palo Alto is enthused to have supported the streamlined approval of this high-quality affordable housing project, along with its on-site services to meet the needs of disabled adult residents,” said Palo Alto Mayor Pat Burt. “We are pleased this project has been designed to reflect both our community goals and needs, along with embracing the Eichler design characteristics of the neighborhood.”
“Reaching this milestone is a true testament of what is possible when we work together to achieve a common goal of building more housing that is affordable,” said Consuelo Hernandez, Director of the County’s Office of Supportive Housing. “We look forward to our continued partnership with the City of Palo Alto on this development and future opportunities.”
Mitchell Park Place will replace a building that is currently occupied by AbilityPath. The single four-story building will include 2,750 square feet of office space on the ground floor, which will be leased to AbilityPath. The property will feature 50 apartments with a mix of studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom configurations. Half of the units will offer housing to individuals with developmental disabilities.
Space has been set aside to host a live-in property manager and an office for a resident services coordinator who will provide a broad range of services for individuals with developmental disabilities, including wellness, career, education and financial literacy programming.
The building aesthetics complement the surrounding neighborhood and reflect the City of Palo Alto’s draft Objective Design Standards and the final Palo Alto Eichler Neighborhood Design Guidelines. The development embraces walkability and provides easy access to public transportation.
The building will be LEED or Green Point Rated certified and feature a host of supporting sustainable features, such as solar panels on the roof, low-flow water fixtures, EnergyStar appliances, and dedicated bike parking and green spaces, including a central outdoor courtyard with drought-tolerant plants designed to hold a resident garden. The property includes important amenities for its residents such as a computer learning center and community room, all supported by an on-site property management office and resident services coordinator.
“Everything about Mitchell Park Place is ideally designed to suit our clients and allow us to provide important services onsite,” said Bryan Neider, CEO of AbilityPath. “We are thrilled with the project’s central location to many amenities, including the library, community center, Magical Bridge all-inclusive playground, and AbilityPath’s Middlefield site, and appreciate that residents can easily access these services using walking, biking or nearby public transit as the primary means of transport.”
“So many of us live with our parents because we cannot afford housing in Santa Clara County, and just a few of us in low-income apartments,” said Per Maresca, an AbilityPath client. “I’m so excited that more people will soon have the opportunity to live independently thanks to this project.”
Community Engagement and Input
The entitlement approval follows an extensive community outreach and engagement campaign led by Eden Housing and project architect Architects FORA. This resulted in three community workshops and a series of one-on-one interviews with nearby neighbors, the developmental disabilities community and City of Palo Alto agencies; a focus group with members of the special needs community; and meetings with the Greenmeadow Community Association board and the Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee. Community members were also given the opportunity to submit written input.
In response to suggestions from the community, the development team added several semi-evergreen trees that will be planted on a perimeter of the site to buffer the residential units from Charleston Road, shield on-site parking, and offer physical and visual separation from the project’s adjacent multi-use path. The architect also incorporated Eichler design aesthetics into the final design, including a sloped roof and clerestory windows, and stepped back the fourth story along Charleston Road based on community feedback.
The site also includes features such as separation of pedestrian and vehicular traffic, gated entry points to the communal outdoor space, and secure bike parking and ample lighting to enhance safety and security.
“We sought to prioritize community feedback as much as possible at every stage in the planning process to ensure this development is appropriate for its unique community context. Our goal is to create a building that will consider the needs of the city, Mitchell Park Place future tenants, and nearby residents, and complement existing development,” said Linda Mandolini, President of Eden Housing. “We are thrilled to be given the green light and will continue to gather input and keep the public informed at every step in the process. We are proud to proceed with this important project that promotes fair and equitable housing, a priority for all of us as demand and prices continue to escalate in the greater Bay Area.”
Next steps for the project include finalizing design to meet the City’s requirements and applying for financing, with the aim to start construction in spring of 2023.
“It’s a long haul,” said Simitian, “but this is how we build and maintain a sense of community; step by step.”
About Eden Housing
Eden Housing is a non-profit organization with more than 50 years of experience providing safe and affordable housing that helps families stay secure, allows communities to thrive, and solves many of the most pressing housing challenges facing California cities. Since its inception, the Bay Area-based organization has developed more than 10,000 affordable homes and is a leader in making its residential communities environmentally sustainable and efficient through integrating energy conservation. Eden is also known as a champion of housing policy advocacy at the local, state, and national level, supporting practices that both create and preserve affordable housing for diverse communities. Learn more at: www.edenhousing.org.
About Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian
Santa Clara County Supervisor S. Joseph Simitian represents the Fifth District, which includes Cupertino, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, Mountain View, Palo Alto, Saratoga, Stanford, and portions of San Jose. He was elected to the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors in 2012 and re-elected in 2016 and 2020. Joe’s public service over the years includes stints as a member of the California State Senate, the California State Assembly, Mayor of Palo Alto, President of the Palo Alto School Board, as well as an earlier term on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors. Learn more at supervisorsimitian.org.
AbilityPath (formerly Gatepath + Abilities United) has been a cornerstone of the greater San Francisco Bay Area community for 100 years, providing a lifespan of support services to individuals with special needs and developmental disabilities. Our mission is to empower people of all abilities to achieve their full potential through innovative, inclusive programs and community partnerships. With educational, therapeutic, vocational and family support services, we are distinctive in providing support to an individual throughout his or her lifetime. AbilityPath is one of the largest nonprofits in the Bay Area, with a budget of $22 million and serving nearly 1,500 individuals daily at 13 locations across San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties. We collaborate with businesses, third party providers, local nonprofits and various organizations to bring the highest quality services to the children, youth and adults in our programs. Together, we are creating a world where people of all abilities are fully accepted, respected, and included in all aspects of life – in the classroom, the workplace, and in our communities.
Johnston Communications for Eden Housing
(408) 656 8025, firstname.lastname@example.org
Communications Board Aide, Office of County Supervisor Joe Simitian
VP of Marketing and Development, AbilityPath