Kevin L. Hoover
Mad River Union
ARCATA – In the 1990s, the parking lot at Seventh and I streets was filled with Fords. Then Isackson Motors closed, and the lot has been empty except for occasional heavy equipment staging, food trucks and parking for the businesses on the parcel’s south side.
Now, Danco Group is proposing creation of 44 units of affordable housing in a four story building on the site. The building is externally similar to another Danco development, the Plaza Point senior housing project one block north at Eighth and I streets.
An open house on the new project was held at Plaza Point last week, facilitated by Redwood Community Action Agency (RCEA). The project appears to be unnamed, but is referred to as both the "Isaacson" project or the Seventh and I project.
The internal composition of the 44-unit building includes 16 one-bedroom apartments, 17 two-bedrooms and 11 three-bedrooms. Onsite amenities would include a toddler playground, skate park, “sitting plaza,” plus a community room and kitchen.
Danco is applying for an Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities (AHSC) grant to fund a range of transportation and other improvements in the area. These could include better sidewalks, pocket parks, bike racks, bulbouts, street trees, car share and bike share programs, electric vehicle charging, plus sewer, water, stormwater and utility upgrades.
Danco Asset Manager McKenzie Dibble said that if the grant doesn’t come through, the project will still proceed, though not as quickly.
Fifteen parking spaces are planned, and that posed a concern to some. One attendee predicted that residents will have to park on the streets, and said the neighborhood is already “maxed out” with vehicles.
Community Development Director David Loya said the public will have the opportunity to suggest modifications to the project during the city’s design review process.
The project is being processed as exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), with review streamlined for affordable housing. It will have to be considered by Arcata’s Planning Commission, since the parcel on which it is sited will have to be separated from the commercially zoned south side. Being in the Coastal Zone, it will also have to gain approval from the Coastal Commission.
The historically designated buildings on the south side would remain, but two residences on the west side would be demolished to make room for the project.