Santa Maria Sun / News
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 13, Issue 48
Laz-E-Daze comes out of retirementProject plans to renovate Broadway retirement center
By HENRY HOUSTON
It might be busy days at Laz-E-Daze Retirement Center soon. Eric Dias, president, and Kevin Teixeira, chief financial officer, of Western Sky Communities, LLC, are planning to transform the former retirement center into what the Santa Maria Planning Commission is calling a high-density apartment complex. However, Dias and Teixeira don’t see it that way. They see it as the fix-up Santa Maria needs. Western Sky plans to name the project Santa Fe Villas—and the name fits what is planned, Dias said.
“We’re going with that Southwest feel,” he said. “We have the drought-resistant plants, which is our idea to be more environmentally friendly.”
Of course, there is more planned than just a name change and new plants. Most of the units in the complex are studio apartments and some are one-bedroom apartments. The tenants right now are without kitchens in their rooms; something the proposed plans aim to fix.
The proposed plan is to transform the complex to have 52 one-bedroom units, 20 studio units, and 20 two-story one-bedroom units. The full occupancy, Dias estimated, is 120 units. This is only a minimal increase, he added, since right now the full occupancy is 110.
Since there aren’t kitchens in all of the residential rooms, officials have resorted to providing meal plans for those who are interested. Because the complex was once a retirement center, there’s a large kitchen, and it’s through this the owners provide hot meals for the tenants who pay for a meal plan. However, the profit of this is subject to tenant demand, which has diminished as of late.
“Instead of buying three meals a day, many [residents] have had to decide to cut back on one or two meals a day,” Teixeira said.
The project could allow a $50 to $70 increase in allowance for many of the tenants.
“This will mean the world for the tenants,” Ed Galanski, general manager at Lazy-Daze, said, because tenants who are on fixed incomes will see an increase in allowance due to the housing unit’s addition of a kitchen.
The process will have some hurdles, however. If the Santa Maria Planning Commission approves the project, a rezoning recommendation will then need to be approved by the Santa Maria City Council. Then the Planning Commission will decide whether it’s a feasible project to be permitted.
The zoning issue goes back to the 1960s: The establishment before Lazy-Daze was a hotel, but the U.S. Highway 101 move away from Broadway dealt a blow to the hotel. That was when proprietors decided to make it senior housing, said Bill Shipsey, the project planner with Santa Maria Planning Commission. And it seems that senior housing will be a part of the complex in the future as well if the developers are going to want 91 units.
“For family housing, there needs to be 30 units per acre, but they don’t have a 3-acre lot,” Shipsey said. “So it’s going to have to be a mix of 54 senior apartments and 37 non-senior apartments.”
However, some concerns have been raised about a mixed-housing complex.
To research this possibility, the Planning Commission recently requested crime statistics as well as records for medical response to the vicinity. Once this is reviewed, Shipsey said, the Planning Commission will have better insight on whether or not to recommend the project to the City Council.
There’s also more than just statistics on the commission’s mind. Shipsey said the commission is concerned that the proposed architecture of the units is not conducive to a senior lifestyle. He said there aren’t enough ground-level apartments in the proposed plans to meet seniors’ needs. Also, the other units are measuring too large in square footage for senior housing.
In order to renovate the area without displacing tenants, Western Sky will renovate the complex in sections. Tenants will move back in once each section is renovated. In addition to providing better housing, the purpose of Santa Fe Villas is to boost the scenery on North Broadway.
“We’re trying to make a better community,” Dias said. “We’ve put a lot of money in it to make it livable. The previous owner left us a lot of work to do. We’re trying to make it look nice. The town needs it.”
Galanski, Dias, and Teixeira all said the housing project, which has been in the development process for two years, isn’t meant to just raise rent on their tenants. Galanski said the new project would provide tax revenue for the city since property taxes are based at one percent of property’s value. After the project is completed, he believes the property value will increase.
But it’s going take a while to break ground on the project. It was an item on the Planning Commission’s Jan. 16 agenda, but was removed in a vote after concerns due to Western Sky’s absence from the Jan. 3 meeting, as well as some unresolved questions the city has on the project.
Henry Houston can be contacted through the managing editor at email@example.com.
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