Affordable housing projects in Fresno, Lemoore win state money. Here’s what they’re planning

A planned complex of affordable apartments in central Fresno won an award of more than $48.7 million this week from a state grant program.

The Dakota, proposed to offer 114 apartments at the southwest corner of Blackstone and Dakota avenues, was one of 21 projects across California approved by the state’s Strategic Growth Council to receive a share of $757 million from the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities program.

The Fresno project, by RHCB Development LP, had the fifth highest score from 36 applications submitted by developers and cities for consideration by the council.

It will be located at the site of the former Smuggler’s Inn restaurant and lounge. It is adjacent to the Crossroads Village, a former Sheraton Four Points hotel converted into a homeless shelter in 2021 and now in the process of being transformed into affordable permanent housing.

According to information from the Strategic Growth Council, The Dakota project will not only have 114 affordable apartments for various family sizes, including affordable housing vouchers for veterans, but also offer a range of social services for residents.

About $33.1 million of the award is for the complex’s housing component. Another $741,631 was earmarked for social services programs at the site.

An additional $14,839,418 was included in the award for transportation improvements in the area through a partnership with the city of Fresno’s public works, planning and transportation departments. Those improvements will include a Class IV bikeway, new walkways, new bus stops, an electric bus and vanpool vehicles for the neighborhood.

Katie Wilbur, executive director of RHCB Development, told The Bee on Thursday that the organization continues to seek additional funding, through tax credits and other sources, to raise what will be necessary to begin and complete construction. As a result, she added, there’s no firm timeline for when construction on The Dakota may commence.

The Strategic Growth Council, at its meeting Wednesday in Sacramento, also approved $25.2 million for the Smith Avenue Apartments project in the city of Lemoore, in Kings County. That project, at Smith and Oleander avenues in east-central Lemoore, will include 108 affordable apartments.

The complex is planned to include a community building, laundry room, playground, dog park and swimming pool.

About $8.6 million of the award is for transportation improvements in the Lemoore area, including the purchase of eight mini buses to operate and expand a micro-transit service in the area. Social services for residents will include health and wellness classes, financial literacy, home-buyer education, parenting classes and others.

The “sustainability” aspect of the awards relates to the volume of greenhouse gas emissions that will be reduced through the various clean energy and transportation features of the projects. The Dakota complex in Fresno is projected to eliminate more than 37,300 metric tons of carbon dioxide, while the Smith Avenue Apartments in Lemoore has a projected emissions reduction of almost 24,300 metric tons.

“California is reimagining communities around the state to address the ways our cities are changing – adapting to climate change and addressing housing scarcity,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement announcing the awards. “These investments will help cut carbon pollution and build more affordable housing as we look forward to a clean energy future.”

Wednesday’s awards are the seventh round of money from the AHSC program, which is funded through cap-and-trade dollars the state receives from auctions of carbon-reduction credits to companies. To date, more than $3 billion has been approved, representing an investment toward 17,000 affordable homes in the state, as well as transportation improvements.