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March 11, 2009 > New housing development proposed in Newark

New housing development proposed in Newark

By Mai El-Sadany

Many Bay Area cities have implemented a requirement known as inclusionary housing, which requires that a portion of a housing plan be allocated for lower income residents. After studying the plans of other cities, the City of Newark passed an inclusionary housing requirement of its own in 2002.

A new housing complex, projected to be built in Newark by Trumark Companies will be the first project legally subject to this law. Christopher Davenport, Senior Vice President of Trumark, says the complex will be composed of around 200 three-story residential townhomes on 12 acres of land. Approximately 15 percent of the homes will be low-income as required by the new law, but he says "you won't be able to tell the low-income from the regular-priced homes."

The land Trumark is purchasing has been a source of discussion for the city for the past 20 years, says Terrence Grindall, Community Development Director of the City of Newark. The proposed site is currently used for light industrial purposes bounded to the east by Timber Street, a cul-de-sac that ends at the site, and Interstate 880. About the land Grindall says, "The conclusion of all of the studies that have been done alongside the planning, judgment and city council vision say that it would best be a residential area."

In addition to building the housing complex, Trumark has also pledged to develop a "tremendous amount of infrastructure" around the area, including traffic signals and meandering sidewalks. This is not the first time that the City of Newark and Trumark have worked together; Trumark developed a project in 2000 for the city that was considered highly "successful."

The company's housing plans were brought up at a recent City Council meeting where a number of Newark citizens raised concerns and questions about the plans. Among the speakers were a property owner who worried that his business would be left in the dark after the construction of the residential complex, an individual asking for clarification on the 8-foot privacy wall that was being built, and another community member who requested further details on the projected plans for the new traffic signal and the percentage of low-income housing in the complex.

In addition to being present at the City Council meeting, Trumark has also invited Newark community members to meetings and learn more about the project, ask their questions, and express any concerns. Around 40-50 community members have attended these meetings. Davenport says, "Our company goal is to understand the public and meet with the people, not to sneak around them."

Grindall adds, "Our community members definitely have the right to raise their concerns through the open community process and many of their comments were listened to by the staff and developer. The project has certainly improved because of this. Newark wants to see a range of residential opportunities so that residents can get an apartment with their first job and then move on throughout the rest of their lives. Newark doesn't want to have a single type of housing; people should be able to live their whole lives here."

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