BRIDGE Housing doesn’t just build affordable homes. The longtime affordable housing provider transforms communities. And over the next five years, San Francisco-based BRIDGE, which also has offices in Irvine and San Diego, plans a huge increase in lives touched and neighborhoods changed as it doubles in size.
“BRIDGE has always been committed to production, and we remain committed to that. We’ve been thinking in a forward way. We want to use the diversified platform we have built to increase our mission, and we have the capacity to do it,” said BRIDGE CEO Cynthia Parker in a recent interview.
In its recently released strategic plan, BRIDGE’s executives and board outline a compelling case for the power of one housing developer – in partner with dozens of other community and government organizations – to affect real progress. And you only have to look as far as some of the BRIDGE projects completed or in progress to see what they are talking about.
In San Francisco, BRIDGE is leading the effort to Rebuild Potrero, an ambitious project that will replace over 600 units of public housing in the Potrero Terrace and Annex, add new affordable and market rate homes, and fuse a connection between the vast economic gap that looms between the public housing residents and their neighbors on affluent Potrero Hill.
In Los Angeles, BRIDGE is a partner in the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles’ efforts to expand and redevelop Jordan Downs, a 700-unit public housing project in Watts. The new construction will replace the existing units, bring mixed-income housing to the area, and add needed retail, industrial and community resources.
In San Diego, BRIDGE developers are in progress on Comm 22, a transit-oriented infill project that is transforming four acres in Logan Heights with 252 homes (200 affordable), with on-site access to day care, health care, a post office and a bank, and open space. The project, a partnership with Maximizing Access to Advance Our Communities (MAAC) includes new construction and reuse of a former warehouse building on surplus land leased from the San Diego Unified School District.
In Oakland, another transit-focused development is in progress, one that will benefit from the location adjacent to the MacArthur BART Stationin North Oakland to discourage vehicle trips. A total of 624 units (108 below market rate) are planned, and BART riders will benefit from a new 478-space parking garage that’s currently under construction. Commercial, retail and community space is also part of the MacArthur plan.
And those are just a few of the major projects the nonprofit has in progress. As BRIDGE doubles in size, it will build outside of California for the first time, taking on at least two projects in the Pacific Northwest where there is high demand for quality affordable housing. All told, the BRIDGE plan calls for developing 3,800 new units and acquiring 3,750 by 2017.
The focus on transit-centric housing is something BRIDGE has become known for, and the company already has 2,400 built and operated transit-proximate units throughout California. With more renters demanding housing with easy access to public transportation and walkable neighborhoods, the time is right to expand that emphasis.
“We think it’s an important value to build near transit and that it offers quite a bit for the cities in terms of the environment, and to the residents. One of our calling cards is infill development and transit- oriented development,” Parker said.
Another one of BRIDGE’s calling cards is onsite programs that benefit its unique resident niches, whether they are seniors, families, and the formerly homeless or very-low income. They hope to grow access to health care, day care, and wellness programs as the expansion unfolds.
For their senior housing projects, having a Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) on-site can make a huge difference in the ability to live independently longer. BRIDGE developed housing at The Coronet in San Francisco’s Richmond District that provides access to such care, and the Comm 22 project will duplicate that model.
Other family-centric offerings include after school and summer care for children, and English as a Second Language classes for adults.
“Currently we have 37,000 residents, and 11,000 to 12,000 of them are involved in some service activity that’s provided on site. We’re looking at ways we can enhance educational and health activities for our families and demonstrate measurable outcomes,” Parker noted. The strategic plan calls for growing the number of times the resident services are accessed to 100,000 by 2017.
A comprehensive technology update, Parker said, helped BRIDGE get ready to grow. Thanks in part to real estate software provider Yardi, BRIDGE has made significant strides towards automating its back office, streamlining the construction workflow process, and maximizing efficiency in on-site operations.
In the midst of their tremendous growth, BRIDGE will push to decrease its per-unit development costs by 15 percent. They’ve implemented Yardi Voyager Construction and Development Software to help them do so. The system provides for detailed tracking of development through every construction phase, including contracts management, access to budgeted vs. actual costs, comprehensive reporting, with all documentation is electronic and browser-accessible.
“The ability to transfer documents and look at plans and specs, electronically, and move things around, is tremendously helpful,” Parker said. She is confident that the company has created a platform uniquely suited to its project and operations needs, one that combines comprehensive accounting and reporting, project planning, and ancillary data storage.
Growing pains are never easy, but BRIDGE is clearly poised to push them aside as it moves forward toward an exciting new future, bringing greatly needed new housing to California and beyond.