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Apartment, transit project looks to spur urbanization of downtown Coachella


A proposed mixed-use development that would bring a
transit station, commercial space and 105 subsidized affordable apartments to downtown Coachella appears to be on the verge of moving forward.

" It's the beginning of a new urban concept downtown,'' Mayor Steven Hernandez told City News Service. "Our goal is for this to be the catalyst for more urban development because there's still more vacant land in downtown.''

The Coachella Planning Commission on Wednesday is scheduled to consider the architectural design of the Pueblo Viejo Villas and accompanying transit hub before handing the project off to the City Council for final approval.

The proposal comes as municipalities across Southern California scramble to accommodate Gov. Gavin Newsom's ambitious plan to build 3 1/2 million new housing units statewide by 2025, a goal Coachella city officials appear to be chipping away at by pushing for dense housing in the undeveloped downtown corridor.

San Diego-based affordable housing developer Chelsea Investment Corp. proposes to transform nearly five acres at the northeast corner of Cesar Chavez and Sixth streets into an apartment community with an adjacent transit station to be operated by Sunline Transit Agency.

Plans call for two stories of residential housing -- ranging from one to three bedrooms per unit -- along with more than 3,000 square feet of commercial space for lease on the ground floor.

The project would be partially paid for by the state's Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities Program, funded by the state's Cap-and-Trade program. Hernandez said the state has earmarked upwards of $14 million for the project.

The council previously allowed for the rezoning of a portion of the project site to accommodate construction, Hernandez said.

"We are definitely in support of the project,'' he said. "We are
just making sure it's aesthetically pleasing.''

Between 2000 and 2018, the total number of households in Coachella more than doubled, from 4,807 to 9,683, according to the Southern California Association of Governments.

Hernandez said that in order to make way for future growth, developing the city's walkable downtown corridor with dense housing at all income brackets is a must.

"The uniqueness of Coachella is there is a large amount of land that has never been developed,'' he said. "It hasn't been farmed, particularly in
our downtown.''

This would be the second project by Chelsea Investment Corp. in Coachella. Cesar Chavez Villas is located less than a quarter-mile away on Bagdad Avenue.

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