Small, infill multifamily projects like this one exemplify the tenets of Lean Urbanism, a growing movement that was born out of New Urbanism.
California School District Turns Land Into Teacher Housing
A soaring cost of living is making schoolteachers an endangered species in Northern California.
|KTGY Group Inc., an Irvine, Calif.-based land-planning and residential design firm, supplied the plan and design for Casa del Maestro. The design was inspired by the landmark homes in San Francisco’s Presidio district, a former Army base.|
A soaring cost of living is making school teachers an endangered species in Northern California. That’s why the Santa Clara Unified Elementary School District, which recently experienced a 300% increase in teacher attrition, took the unusual step of building apartments for its teachers on school land.
The idea, the deal that made it a reality, and the design of the resulting Casa del Maestro are serving as a model for school boards in other high-cost-of-living areas around the country. Officials from several districts have toured the project to understand how it works.
These are the key elements of the deal:
From the school board’s perspective, the project addresses two primary issues, says Bruce Dorfman, a principal with Thompson Residen-tial Partners LLC, Sausalito, Calif., which built Casa del Maestro. First, the district can attract and retain 40 teachers with rents of one-third to 40% of the local rate. (The program is available to teachers who have been in the district for less than three years.) Second, through a required mortgage assistance program with savings incentive, teachers who live there can save money for a down payment on a home in the area.
“It has been shown that teachers who buy homes in the area where they work have much longer tenures,” says Dorfman.
The deal was not a moneymaker for Thompson, Dorfman says, but was its way of contributing to the community’s long-term viability for families. During the past 10 years, Thompson has built 3,000 rental and for-sale units in Santa Clara.
About 100 teachers en-tered a lottery to live in the units, increasing the likelihood that an adjacent parcel will be similarly developed.