Family Focused Affordable Housing Community Hosts Grand Opening for Reinvigorated Commercial Center in Santa Ana, California

SANTA ANA, CA - A grand opening was just held for La Placita Cinco, a 51-unit affordable housing community that includes residential and retail in Santa Ana, CA. The project includes $6 million in funding from the City of Santa Ana and will provide much needed affordable housing to Orange County.

Located at 2239 West 5th Street, La Placita Cinco includes 20 two-bedroom units, 29 three-bedroom units, and 2 four-bedroom units. Available units and monthly rent levels range from $881 to $2,154. The new residential development is a four-level single structure building with a mix of units targeted for families between 30 percent and 60 percent of the Area Median Income.

Located in the Artesia Pilar neighborhood of Santa Ana near the newly anticipated OC Streetcar, La Placita Cinco replaces a former gas station, with a four-story mixed-use building. The community consists of 51 units with ground floor space that can be used by residents for a variety of purposes. La Placita Cinco carefully preserved the site’s original commercial buildings, which contain several retailers. This allowed the businesses to remain open while the project was under construction.

Developers say that La Placita Cinco revitalizes an underutilized strip center in a neighborhood that has not seen significant investment in over five decades. It is drawing attention due to its proximity to the city’s plan to develop a new light rail along 5th Street where the project is located.

“Our goal was to build open social spaces so residents can come together and connect with their neighbors, the existing retailers, as well as the greater Artesia Pilar neighborhood” said Kyle Paine, President of Community Development Partners. “Aligned with the desire of the City to have high quality housing options located along the light rail, La Placita Cinco presented a great opportunity to turn the desire into reality. As such, it’s development forged new paths - adjusting its design and details to accommodate the requests of the community like lower density, additional parking and enhanced site amenities, plus, requests from the city for larger, family-oriented housing units, significant street improvements, and financial partners.”

Developers and designers say that La Placita Cinco is a prototypical example of revitalizing a suburban style strip retail center in order to better serve the surrounding community.

“Ultimately, our intent was to provide vibrant retail and residential, while revitalizing this neighborhood in Santa Ana. Our team members truly made this mixed-use come together in a sustainable and pedestrian-friendly manner. The residential component provides 24/7 presence by locating housing in direct proximity to shopping and working environments. Horizontal proximity integrates these essential uses supporting a sustainable, pedestrian friendly and livable environment. Ultimately, the intent is to energize the community with a variety of demographics by providing a choice in housing solutions that in turn creates a vibrant social fabric,” said Tim Mustard, Principal at TCA Architects.

La Placita Cinco thoughtfully incorporated a public park and open space between the two commercial buildings and residential building; allowing for a variety of public uses such as gathering spaces for local patrons and workers, farmer’s markets, outdoor concerts and community gardening. Also, a ground level community space is available for resident and community services. Mercy House, which is operating La Placita Cinco, has already successfully held several events since the project officially opened in June.

“La Placita Cinco represents a replicable model for repurposing auto-oriented commercial properties into a mixed-use neighborhood serving centers that includes new homes and community amenities, while retaining and lifting up the existing businesses.” said City Fabrick Principal, Brian Ulaszewski. 

The site, formerly called “Tiny Tim Plaza” is a 2.25-acre commercial property located at the northeast corner of Fifth Street and Hawley Street in the heart of Santa Ana. According to TCA Architects, La Placita Cinco is a great example of how developers can revitalize old strip shopping centers, especially ones anchored by gas stations.

“This project checks all the boxes—it includes a $6 million grant from the city, it provides affordable housing, it’s mixed-use, it includes public art, it revitalizes a core neighborhood, while providing public space for community events. It is important to recognize the incredible value this underserved strip malls potential by integrating families into a new, vibrant walkable community. Think about how many aging strip centers that can use this as a prototype for bringing life to an aging asset,” said Mustard.

La Placita Cinco is intended to reflect the cultural diversity of the Artesia Pilar neighborhood and broader City of Santa Ana both architecturally and artistically. A curated mural on the prominent corner of the building was created by local artists.

The project leveraged traditional and innovative funding sources that are unique to rehabilitating a blighted commercial property with affordable housing. In its final form La Placita Cinco is supported through a nine percent tax credit award, and cooperative lender and investor partners which supported both the new construction of affordable residential units with the renovations of the existing site and buildings, said developers.

Along with the City of Santa Ana, La Placita Cinco was developed by Community Development Partners and Magis Realty, designed by City Fabrick and operated by Mercy House. Other core partners include TCA Architects (Architect of Record), JDLA (Landscape Architect), Walton Construction (General Contractor) and Ware Malcomb (Civil Engineer). Funding partners include the following: City of Santa Ana Low- and Moderate-Income Housing Asset Fund (LMIHAF) and Inclusionary Housing Fund, 9 percent Low Income Housing Tax Credits, long term debt from Freddie Mac, and construction financing from Citibank, and Tax Credit equity from R4 Capital.

The grand opening event was attended by the project team, community residents, and public officials including: Tom Umberg of the California State Senate; Mayor Vicente Sarmiento of The City of Santa Ana, and Councilmember Johnathan Ryan Hernandez also of Santa Ana.

About Community Development Partners: Founded in 2011, Community Development Partners develops and operates sustainable, life-enhancing affordable housing with a focus on long term community engagement and innovative design. The company’s mission is to repair and strengthen the fabric of cities and towns by meeting the housing needs of local citizens through the thoughtful planning and creative development of sustainable, affordable communities. The company has offices in Newport Beach, California and Portland, Oregon and has developed and currently operates properties in Arizona, California, Nevada, and Oregon.  For more information, please visit: communitydevpartners.com

About City Fabrick: Established in 2011, City Fabrick is a nonprofit urban design studio reshaping, restoring, and empowering communities through collaborative public-interest design, planning, policy development, and advocacy. Their work includes a broad range of work including design and planning parks and natural systems, people-centered mobility networks, affordable housing communities, environmental health and climate resiliency solutions, healthy community strategies, and community development. Learn more at www.cityfabrick.org

About TCA Architects: Founded in 1993, TCA Architects are nationally recognized leaders in high-density, mixed-use, multifamily housing, and signature hospitality environments. The firm’s collaborative approach and industry leading technological expertise have resulted in award-winning, sustainable projects that respect our communities and the environment.  With studios located in Oakland, Los Angeles and Irvine, California, TCA is one of the nation’s fastest growing architectural firms. For more information on TCA, its design talent and current projects, visit www.tca-arch.com

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