AMCAL Newsletter

June 2012 Amcal Times Vol.9, No.1

Mosaic grand opening

LOS ANGELES – Councilman Ed Reyes helped AMCAL open the Mosaic apartments in December, welcoming new families and seniors to new 56-unit apartment. It is AMCAL’s 14th development in Los Angeles and replaces an old obsolete commercial building with a plain design. AMCAL procured public funding from city, state and federal sources for the $21,357,000 development.

“As the area evolves, my sense of optimism increases,” Reyes said. “We’re exploring new opportunities that can be fulfilled from things like this.”

Pico-Union is home to many immigrants who work long hours at multiple jobs. Delighted new tenants spoke of past evictions and temporarily living in converted garages and in cars.

Mosaic was designed by Killefer Flammang Architects and provides two community rooms and a central landscaped courtyard. The front façade interacts with the active Pico Blvd. sidewalk, and the rear buildings are designed like the historic Craftsman houses in the neighborhood.

Mosaic is located near an MTA bus stop, Plunge Park, 10th Street Elementary School, a medical clinic, a market and a pharmacy.

Non-profit partner is Foundation for Affordable Housing (San Juan Capistrano). LifeSTEPs will provide supportive services for residents.

Mosaic received an allocation of $13,700,000 in 9% tax credits in 2009. Financial partners include Hudson Housing for equity ($10,891,000), and U.S. Bank for construction loan ($7,499,000) and permanent loan ($1,243,000). Agency funding includes CRA, State HCD (Prop. 1C infill), and federal ARRA stimulus.

Montecito grand opening

LOS ANGELES – County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky and City Councilman Tony Cardenas welcomed needy seniors to AMCAL’s new Montecito Terraces apartments. Van Tilburg, Banvard & Soderbergh created a contemporary Spanish design with a pool and upper-level community patios.

“I can say without any question or any danger of contradiction, that this building is as beautiful a building, as beautifully designed, and this conveys everything that all of us aspire to in housing of any community in my whole district,” Zaroslavsky said.

The new 98-unit community on two sites replaces a rundown apartment and is part of the revitalization of Blythe Street and Panorama City, which suffered from high crime in the early 2000s. Project value is $24,123,000, and MHSA provided funding for several units.

“This is an opportunity for us to give back, for you AMCAL to give back individually and specifically but also as a community and as government to say we helped make this possible so that you could live out the last years of your life with dignity and respect,” Cardenas said. “It’s very rare, unfortunately, but we made it happen right here on Blythe Street.”

Montecito Terraces is located near an MTA Rapid bus stop, The Plant shopping center, Blythe Street Park, and Casa Esperanza Community Center.

Non-profit partner is Las Palmas Foundation (Encinitas). LifeSTEPs will provide supportive services for residents.

Montecito Terraces received an allocation of $13,392,000 in 9% tax credits in 2009. Financial partners include Hudson Housing for equity ($9,708,000), and U.S. Bank for construction loan ($10,417,000) and permanent loan ($3,912,000). Agency funding includes CRA, L.A. Housing Dept., State HCD (Prop. 1C infill), AHP, and federal ARRA stimulus.

Mission groundbreaking

SAN DIEGO – Mission Apts. is a new transit-oriented development next to a trolley station near Lindbergh Airport. The 85-unit family apartment replaces a 1.5-ac. parking lot, and the urban infill project (56 dua) is designed to achieve LEED Gold designation.

Mission received an allocation of $9,049,000 in 4% tax credits in 2010. The San Diego RDA and Housing Commission provided $12,000,000 in funding. Project value is $27,069,000.

Mission is AMCAL’s 2nd development in San Diego, following the award winning brownfield redevelopment, Los Vientos in Barrio Logan. Mission is located near an MTS bus stop, Presidio Park, UCSD medical clinic, Grant Elementary School, and a market.

Withee Malcolm (Torrance) designed a contemporary urban building with a tuck-under parking court to reduce construction costs. Completion is scheduled for August.

Non-profit partner is Las Palmas Foundation (Encinitas). LifeSTEPs will provide supportive services for residents.

Financial partners include Bank of America for equity ($8,669,000) and construction loan ($13,217,000), and California Community Reinvestment Corp. for permanent loan ($6,118,000).

Vista del Rio groundbreaking

SANTA ANA – AMCAL and its non-profit partner, A Community of Friends, broke ground on Vista del Rio, a an apartment designed for the physically and developmentally disabled, on May 3.

The 41-unit community is AMCAL’s third in Orange County, following the grand opening of Royale apts. in Westminister and the groundbreaking for Avenida Villas in unincorporated County land next to Anaheim last year.

Vista del Rio received an allocation of $6,418,000 in 9% tax credits in 2011 for the 2.7-ac. site.

The City procured its first allocation of project-based Section 8 vouchers, and provided a total of $5,000,000 in funding. Enterprise Foundation funded equity ($5,969,000), and Chase funded construction ($4,588,000) and permanent loans ($303,000).

A new city park will be constructed on a parcel subdivided from the original property, which is next to a golf coure, the Santa Ana River, and nearby amenities include an OCTA bus stop, UC Irvine medical center, and a market.

Onsite amenities include large classrooms and a meditation garden with walking paths.

Saving money for Rancho PV

RANCHO PALOS VERDES – AMCAL returned $500,000 in funding to the City’s RDA following completion of the new Mirandela senior apartments in 2011.

AMCAL General Contractors was able to complete the project on time and under budget, and that efficiency allowed for cost savings. The 34-unit community allows older parents on fixed incomes to live near their children as they age, and is the first large affordable development in the city.

VP Darin Hansen presented a check to Mayor Misetich and the City Council, and City Manager Carolyn Lehr.

AMCAL ranked as top builder

AMCAL was ranked as the 32nd largest affordable building in the country, according to Affordable Housing Finance magazine’s list of the Top 50 Builders.

Mayor expedites L.A. permitting

LOS ANGELES – Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa signed the Multiple Approvals Ordinance, cutting red tape and simplifying the development review process, with AMCAL CEO Percival Vaz invited to the signing ceremony.

Under the new ordinance development projects that require multiple approvals from the City of Los Angeles will now have one deadline rather than multiple expiration dates for individual entitlements.

“By signing the Multiple Approvals Ordinance today, we are making progress on reforming the zoning code and moving towards a more stable, predictable and transparent land-use regulation system in L.A.,” Mayor Villaraigosa said.

“The Multiple Approvals Ordinance will be a huge benefit to infill development projects that often require several approvals in order to be sensitive to the complex needs of existing communities” Vaz said. AMCAL has developed market-rate and affordable housing projects throughout Los Angeles.

“This is a shot in the arm for the development community. Timelines and clear approval deadlines are critical when trying to get funding for an affordable housing project. And the time savings can save large developers hundreds of thousands of dollars on a project.”

“That’s a big deal, especially in affordable housing, where every dollar you’re struggling to get to make them feasible in the first place,” Vaz added.


Company News

New Hires

Jeanie Brusven - Contract Administrator (Construction).
Stephanie Belloff - Project Accountant.
Oscar Salazar - Project Accountant.
Zion Patton - Superintendent (Construction).
Darcy Westman - Project Accountant.
Josh Latter - Project Manager (Development/Finance).
Bob Livingston- Superintendent (Construction).

Asset Management

AMCAL refinanced the Casablanca family apts. in Palmdale after 18 years in operation.

CW Capital provided an FHA 223(f) loan of $11,196,000.

AMCAL purchased Sorrento Villas senior apts. in Simi Valley last year from its equity partner to become 100% owner after 12 years of operation.


California Coalition for Affordable Housing: CEO Percy Vaz spoke on the "Workforce Housing in Sustainable Communities" panel at the Mayor's Housing, Transportation and Jobs Summit on Nov. 16. The Los Angeles Business Council sponsored the event at UCLA.

Vaz discussed making workforce housing more feasible through construction efficiency and all-wood structure designs, separate funding pools for green design elements and social services, incentives to increase density for affordable project, and building housing in areas of the county with lower land costs.

Vaz also discussed solar energy, with its various private funding mechanisms, including PPA structures that LADWP could implement. Solar panels require federal energy tax credits and rebates, from public- or investor-owned utilities, for feasibility.

Other panelists: Kelly Boyer, HUD (moderator); Maria Cabildo, East L.A. Community Corp.; Larry Parks, Federal Home Loan Bank; Linda Wheaton - Calif. HCD; Beatrice Hsu, Related Cos.; Carmel Sella, Wells Fargo.

Urban Land Institute: CEO Percy Vaz spoke at the ULI panel on construction costs and efficiency. Cost are high because some agencies require extras like façade improvements for neighbors and target brownfields and problem sites that market-rate builders avoid. In addition, cost savings are returned to the agencies instead of developers, which does not encourage efficient construction.

Vaz explained that more housing could be built if a single "gatekeeper" agency focused on cost containment, instead of rewarding extra local funding to cover expensive projects or cost overruns.

Other ideas are for a separate lower "prevailing wage" rate for affordable housing, rewarding larger projects that have more affordable units, and establishing design standards for product types and a corresponding cost limit.

Urban Land Institute - Orange County: The Leadership Program for Planned Communities and Urban Infill included presentations from 19 of the most influential leaders in the community development and homebuilding industry.

VP Mario Turner was invited to present on Urban Infill and Affordable Housing, including causes and barriers to development, opportunities and plans for the future.


"Life after RDAs." Affordable Housing Finance (4/2012):
AMCAL President Arjun Nagarkatti explained that the loss of RDA funding will reduce the amount of affordable housing that can be built throughout the state, affecting every community in California.

"The elimination of the RDAs is devastating because these agencies played an enormous role. They were required to set aside at least 20 percent of their revenues to create, rehabilitate, and preserve affordable housing. This generated about $1 billion each year, the largest pool of non-federal money available for affordable homes in the state.

"I think it's going to affect all affordable housing developers."

As the elimination of RDAs was unfolding, AMCAL took a hard look at its pipeline of projects expecting to use redevelopment funds. Like other developers, it pushed to finalize commitments from RDAs on five deals before a cut-off date.

"We also started relooking at all of the projects to turn them around to use HOME and other funds from local housing departments," he said.

In Memorium

Longtime employee and friend Allen Erickson died on Dec. 28 at age 67. He did a multitude of jobs, an asst. superintendent for the Construction Dept. and plan processing / permitting in city halls across the Southland.

"He was one of a kind, and we'll miss him dearly," CEO Percy Vaz said.

Allen began at AMCAL in 2003 when the company had 15 employees and its expansion to today's large staff of 65.

Allen was an expert in navigating the city hall bureaucracy and procuring the difficult-to-procure permits to meet every deadline. He was willing to do whatever it took to help the team, a remnant from his code of honor as an Eagle Scout and in the U.S. Coast Guard.

Back to Newsletters