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Smart Growth Awards project nominee

Affordable housing at Autumn Terrace to replace rundown apartment complex

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Perhaps the most blighted area of San Marcos, the Richmar neighborhood is ripe for a redevelopment project by Community Collective.

Currently under construction and nominated for a Smart Growth Award by the Urban Land Institute, the project calls for the demolition of a 59-unit dilapidated apartment complex.

"That property was the worst eyesore in the city of San Marcos," said Ginger Hitzke, managing partner of Community Collective.

The unsightly apartment complex will be replaced with 103 units of affordable housing. To ease the impact on current residents of the apartment complex, Community Collective helped to relocate 59 tenants and plans to enter many into leases upon the project's completion, Hitzke said.

Amenities offered by Autumn Terrace include a community meeting room, computer learning center, onsite management office, laundry room, playgrounds and 7,500 square feet of neighborhood-serving commercial space located in front of the building on Autumn Drive.

Autumn Terrace is pedestrian friendly, within walking distance of three city parks, San Marcos Elementary, The Boys and Girls Club and retail and employment corridors.

The project's architecture and design are reflective of neighborhood character. Residential units are focused around a central open area with pedestrian walkways leading from the area to the common room and manager's office.

Designed by Mike Burnett of FoundationForForm, the project is also aiming at achieving the LEED Silver standard for energy efficiency. Although the project is striving for Silver, it may achieve Gold, the next highest LEED rating, Hitzke said.

In order to achieve the LEED rating, the project includes sustainable design features such as Energy Star-rated appliance and lighting, low-flow water fixtures, low-E windows and cabinets and countertops made from recycled materials. Drought-tolerant landscaping will be installed to minimize the water required to maintain the grounds surrounding the development. Ninety percent of water runoff at the site will be treated before it enters the public storm drain.

A 164-kilowatt photovoltaic solar generation system will be installed on the project's roof to minimize the amount of power it draws from the grid. By design, the development is expected to be 30 percent more energy efficient than building codes require.

Contractors are also making every effort to recycle construction materials. A portion of the concrete from the demolished buildings was crushed on-site and used as fill for paving materials.

Autumn Terrace's design encourages pedestrian activity in the neighborhood. The area is already active during the day, and people are often seen walking to the grocery store and taking children to school, Hitzke said.

"Right now the neighborhood is very pedestrian oriented -- more than most neighborhoods," she said.

Community Collective hopes to make Autumn Terrace even more pedestrian friendly. The development is within walking distance of three city parks and San Marcos Elementary, which is also currently undergoing a redevelopment. The Boys and Girls Club and the retail and employment corridors on San Marcos Boulevard and East Mission road are also within walking distance. The city of San Marcos is also planning a capital improvement project to install a park with soccer fields adjacent to Autumn Terrace.

With bus stops and the Sprinter line within walking distance, the project also encourages use of mass transit.

"It is very centrally located and surrounded my many schools and colleges in San Marcos," Hitzke said.

Autumn Terrace is currently under construction and is slated for completion in April 2010.

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