Loan approved for Oak Park redevelopment in Paso Robles

Paso Robles city leaders Tuesday unanimously approved a $1.3 million loan for the first phase of redeveloping the Oak Park area on the northwest side of town.

The commitment, officials say, would give the private nonprofit organization Paso Robles Housing Authority a competitive edge in its application for highly sought-after state tax credits it needs to begin the project in the fall.

The deadline for that application is today, and award announcements are to be made in September.

In the end, the project would nearly double Oak Park’s capacity to 302 subsidized below-market-price homes, which would meet with city policy goals.

The money approved by the Paso Robles City Council — acting as the city Redevelopment Agency board — is conditioned on the Housing Authority receiving the state tax credits.

If the Housing Authority doesn’t get the tax credits, several other state and federal assistance pools are open for applications. A second try at the state tax credits is in December.

The time to start building is now, those close to the project say.

The complex, built in 1941, “is a ticking time bomb,” said Housing Authority Director Armando Corella.

After many renovations and day-to-day fixes, it’s practically falling apart, he added, with extensive problems with plumbing, cracked ceilings, aging fixtures and exposed water heaters.

The state money would allow Oak Park — the county’s largest low-income housing neighborhood — to proceed with a plan to demolish the 1940s complex and build one twice its size.

The first phase — costing an estimated $25 million — calls for 64 units to be replaced with 100 units about a year later. The 100-unit figure is down about 50 units from a May estimate, officials said, but those homes would be added back during a later phase.

Families will be relocated in the first phase. Then the second phase of families will move into the new buildings when the first-phase tenants are welcomed back.