Construction of low-income complex to begin

Construction is slated to begin this month on a new low-income apartment complex in Paso Robles’ east side.

Hidden Creek Village, managed by the Housing Authority of San Luis Obispo, will bring 81 apartments onto a hillside lot to be graded at South River Road and Navajo Avenue.

Construction is expected to take 12 to 14 months from the groundbreaking, officials said.

The Housing Authority operates and manages below-market-price housing programs throughout the county, executive director Carol Hatley said.

The roughly $20 million complex is being funded with $1 million from Paso Robles’ Redevelopment Agency as well as state tax credits reserved for low-income housing.

Critics of the project, which the City Council approved in 2009, have expressed worries that the apartments aren’t a good fit for the neighborhood.

In the end, the council determined the project aligned with the city’s blueprint for growth.

Some lots will be graded “slightly more than necessary” so existing neighborhood views are not blocked by the new units, according to the plans.

There aren’t an abundance of parcels available in local communities for low-income housing, Hatley said, so when a spot opens up, it fills a need.

The South River Road parcel was once slated for market-rate townhomes through another developer whose plans changed when the real estate market fell, Hatley said.

In addition to its 81 apartment units, Hidden Creek includes a 3,600-square-foot clubhouse, 34,000 square feet of common open space, two playgrounds, barbecue and picnic table areas and a bus stop.

There will also be pedestrian paths to Niblick Road and Quarterhorse Lane.

The community room in the clubhouse will have after-school programs and financial management classes for residents.

The project includes water-saving and other conservation-minded elements, according to the plan, including drought-tolerant landscaping, permeable walkways and low-flow fixtures.

“Recycling, composting and community garden-type classes will also be provided,” Hatley said.

The complex will offer below-market-price one- to three-bedroom units in two-story buildings and is being designed for children and adults, as well as a small mix of single, disabled or elderly residents, according to the plan.

The estimated rents will be based on the number of bedrooms. Those who make 30 to 60 percent of the county’s median income will be eligible, Hatley said.

She added that the Housing Authority will set up a waiting list and application process for those who are interested.