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Cannella warms up to loan for Casa Grande rehabilitation
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Mayor Anthony Cannella warmed to the idea Monday of the Ceres Redevelopment Agency loaning $2.5 million for a renovation of the Casa Grande Apartment complex.

"I'm comfortable with this project," said Cannella after reading a staff report and hearing from experts about the proposal.

The council, meeting as the CRA board, wants to bring back the proposal for formal action at a future meeting.

The CRA loan is one of several funding mechanisms sought by Intercontinental Affordable Housing of Santa Ana in order to proceed with a $23.4 million rehabilitation project of Casa Grande. The apartments were built on Della Street at Whitmore Avenue in 1971. The company wants to rehabilitate the 100 existing units built in 1971.

Steven H. Dukett of Urban Futures explained that the project was of no risk for the CRA and presented "very, very attractive numbers."

Jey Samuel, vice president of Intercontinental Affordable Housing, said his non-profit firm wants Casa Grande to remain as Section 8 rents rather than market rents. He said the rehabilitation effort would mean Casa Grande could remain a viable place to live for another 30 years. Rehabilitation will include new balconies, carpet, new heating and air conditioning units, new roofs, new paint and landscaping, new water heaters and ovens/stoves and improved security fencing. The work will cost approximately $32,000 per unit.

The council was happy to learn that Intercontinental plans to screen tenants as they look at a potential renter's criminal and credit history. The firm also plans to add a youth service coordinator and someone to assist seniors.

"We try to control bad behavior," said Jenny Alberts of Genessy Management, the firm that will be stepping in to run the apartments.

If approved, the CRA would loan the funds at 3 percent interest and be paid back $1 million immediately after the project with the remaining $1.5 million due in 15 years. The interest rate would be three percent.