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Wildfires hammer construction costs
Work is underway on the 48-unit Cottage Avenue complex for low and very low income seniors.

Wildfires since 2017 that destroyed 33,551 buildings primarily homes with the lion’s share being 19,000 structures lost in the Butte County fire in November coupled with strong construction tied to growth throughout Northern California has added significantly to building costs.

It has meant higher material costs as well as labor costs tied to either higher wages or simply a backlog of work.

That — along with increased growth fees — has created a $3.2 million shortfall for 48 units for low and very low income seniors being built on Cottage Avenue on the southeast corner of its bridge over Highway 99. The project originally was projected to cost $14 million prior to ground being broken.

The City Council last week opted to help bridge that gap by using $250,679 in federal pass through funds for affordable housing to go toward the project instead of the purpose it had previously been earmarked for, which was first time home buyers assistance. San Joaquin County is expected to add another $500,000.

The balance of $2.6 million will come from the sale of tax-exempt state bonds issued by the California Financial Authority. Under state law, the city will not be on a hook for a cent for the repayment of the debt. They just need to give their blessing to the project to allow a private loan under tax exempt rules to be made to the borrower through their bank. The firm had previously tried four times to secure tax credits but lost out to larger projects in more urban areas of the state.

Manteca had previously contributed $3,080,000 to the project with $2.6 million being residual affordable housing redevelopment agency funds. Twenty percent of all RDA bond proceeds have to be spent on affordable housing under state law. Manteca also previously earmarked $450,000 in pass through housing funds the city obtained from the federal government.

The complex will have 13 single story buildings designed as duplexes and four-plexes housing 48 living units as well as a community center along with a community garden.

The complex will have one entrance that roughly aligns with Alameda Street. There will be carports for tenants.

The majority of the units would have one-bedroom and one-bathroom units while some will be two-bedroom, one bathroom unit. The complex will have solar panels for electricity and solar panels for hit water.

The city’s now-defunct RDA also helped fund the Almond Terrace subsidized senior apartments on North Union Road just south of Lathrop Road as well as Magnolia Court on North Grant Avenue north of Bank of Stockton.

Eskaton Senior Manor on Eastwood Avenue in north Manteca just south of Northgate Drive also is a subsidized low-income senior complex.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email