3900 Thornton Avenue, Fremont, CA 94536
Project Type: 100% Affordable Residential
Owner/Developer: Resources for Community Development (RCD)
Presented to our members & Fremont for Everyone (FFE) on: February 2022
Catalyze SV evaluates project sustainability, equity, and vibrancy. Learn about our project review process.
For more information, please refer to our scorecard below.
* Projects go through several phases. Developers submit applications to the City, get their design reviewed, do redesigns based on City & community feedback, resubmit proposals for review, and get approval (though can even redesign after approval)
3900 Thornton Project Scorecard
The proposal is for a 5-story, mixed-use residential building at the corner of Thornton Ave. & Post St. The project features a total of 128 units consisting of a mix between studios, one-bedroom, two-bedroom, and three-bedroom units on a 45,302 square feet site. Residents will receive on-site supportive services and will enjoy amenities like a community room with kitchen and an open space courtyard on the ground floor. RCD is proposing to incorporate 158 (short and long term) bicycle parking slots. Current designs for parking are a choice between 96 or 128 residential parking spots, including 7 additional commercial parking spaces. Based on our PAC and Fremont for Everyone's members' feedback, we'd encourage RCD to pursue the lower parking ratio design and incorporate more spaces for residents.
Among our Project Advocacy Committee members, 3900 Thornton scored a 3.8 out of 5, and members from Fremont for Everyone scored it a 4 out of 5. The differences in score reflect members' divergent views on Vibrancy, Intensity/Zoning, and Affordability.
Community Score: 4/5
Catalyze SV (CSV) and Fremont for Everyone (FFE) members appreciate that Resources for Community Development (RCD) is engaging the community to get feedback for this affordable housing project. We appreciate your openness to hearing input from two different community-based organizations. Businesses and local organizations provide valuable feedback, yet members believe more can be done to engage underserved residents who this project seeks to support. With a worsening global refugee crisis, FFE members see this as an option to support families who are re-settling, as well as an opportunity to provide long term housing opportunities for lower-income families in the area. Overall, members from both organizations would like to see community engagement expanded and reach traditionally underserved communities like Native Americans, refugees, and/or unhoused residents.
Catalyze SV's Vibrancy Score: 3/5
Fremont for Everyone's Vibrancy Score: 4/5
Members from both organizations like the combination of on-site resident support services, common space areas, and the inclusion of ground floor retail to activate the corner of Post & Thornton. CSV members appreciate the thoughtfulness to make the space work for residents, yet they would like to see more community-designated areas and open space to promote active communities. FFE members rated Vibrancy higher as they also liked the resident support services, ground floor retail, and architectural design (yet one FFE leader who found the design blocky and sharp suggested adding more green space surrounding the building). Members from both CSV and FFE agreed there was a need for additional elements like trees and plants along both streets, as well as a community garden to increase physical activity and community interactions. In summary, members from both organizations want to see more diversity in amenities like a retailer that directly serves the needs of residents, integration of more green open space inside the site and around it, including a community garden, and incorporating artistic elements that speak to the history of Native Americans in Fremont.
Transportation Score: 3/5
FFE members acknowledge the difficulty in balancing the mobility needs of a city where commuting longer distances is common, while planning for the future by pursuing lower parking ratios. It is especially challenging to promote alternative modes of transportation in an area of Fremont that is not as bicycle friendly. Fremont residents who scored this project in particular see this challenge. This division was reflected in the scoring - some members want higher parking ratios to avoid the possibility of residents occupying parking spots of nearby businesses. Others want lower ratios and point to the current cost of owning and operating a vehicle, a possible financial burden among the envisioned lower-income residents of this project. Catalyze SV members in particular recognize lower parking ratios are feasible & important on affordable housing developments. Despite differing perspectives, the majority from both groups want to see lower parking ratios (.75 or .50) and more community-designated space in the project over parking spots. They also want the site to actively promote the use of the surrounding network of AC Transit buses and Altamont Corridor Express (ACE) train stops, as well as to incentivize residents to use such transportation options through ongoing free or reduced-cost transit passes.
Sustainability Score: 4/5
The project is pursuing GreenPoint Rated (GPR) Gold certification, yet members believe it has potential to reach GPR Platinum and become a model in sustainability. Among the most well-received sustainable features are the all-electric building, water-efficient landscaping, and open space possibilities to incorporate energy-sustainability elements such as solar panels and a community garden. Members from both organizations believe the installation of solar roof panels would help reach net-zero by reducing carbon emission sources, as well as helping offset some of the utility costs for residents. To maximize the open space opportunities on the ground floor, most members want to see the inclusion of a communal garden to promote physical activity and communal gatherings, improving the project both on Sustainability and Vibrancy.
Catalyze SV's Intensity/Zoning Score: 4/5
Fremont for Everyone's Intensity/Zoning Score 5/5
FFE members were very happy to hear a previous site plan was re-worked resulting in the current proposal for 128 homes ranging from studios to three-bedroom units. CSV members appreciated the proposed density and transparency in discussing construction cost challenges, yet some wonder if there’s an opportunity for additional homes with our suggestion of a reduced-parking ratio. Some FFE members echoed the need for more density and floors through exploration of an alternative design, yet most FFE members found the projects’ density and height appropriate and at the right level, rating it higher than CSV members with a 5/5.
Catalyze SV's Affordability Score: 5/5
Fremont for Everyone's Affordability Score: 4/5
Members of both organizations were very happy to see this project as 100% affordable with a variety of income levels. The proposed 128-apartment project will allocate:
25% of the homes to formerly Homeless or at-risk of homelessness (including 15% Permanent Supportive Housing),
41% to Very-Low Income (household of 3 making less than $61,650/year),
24% for households of 3 making less than $73,980/year, and
10% for households of 3 making less than $98,650/year.
Most CSV members liked the variety of affordability levels from Supportive Housing to the “missing middle” earners, rating it the maximum possible score for this category. FFE members also appreciated the mix of income levels throughout the site to demonstrate upward economic mobility, yet some members had “sticker shock” when seeing how high the income levels are to qualify for affordable housing & how much rents must still be for them.
Legacy Score: N/A
Most FFE & CSV members agree this category is not applicable to the project, yet they highly encourage RCD to incorporate art and/or an acknowledgement that honors the Native American history of the surrounding area. One FFE leader liked the interpretative design elements that seek to celebrate the history and one of Fremont’s original towns.
Catalyze SV Score: 3.8 out of 5
Fremont for Everyone Score: 4 out of 5
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