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Senior project may receive CRA help
City officials like the concept of a plan to have the Ceres Redevelopment Agency play a role in the building of a senior citizens housing project next door to the historic Clinton Whitmore Mansion on Fifth Street.

Cary and Nancy Pope, owners of the historic home and property at 2732 Fifth Street submitted a request for the CRA to acquire a portion of the property for Victorian Village.

According to Bryan Briggs, the Ceres Redevelopment and Economic Development Manager, the CRA would also make a loan secured by the property that will be the liability of the Whitmore Mansion Foundation. Proceeds of the loan will be used to remove the first deed of trust as an encumbrance on the title and the acquisition will be for a senior apartment project.

On Monday, the CRA board authorized city/CRA staff to move forward in concept with the project.

A number of Ceres residents, most with connections to the Ceres Historical Society, said on Monday that the plan would be good to ensure the historic preservation of the mansion.

In 2008 the CRA entertained the notion of playing a part in seeing the senior project built. At the time the CRA wanted to make it easier for the developer, Stanco, a non-profit affordable housing corporation, to secure funding on the $6.2 million project.

Originally the Popes planned to sell the land to Stanco to build the project. Having the CRA as owners will allow Stanco to more easier get financing and government subsidies for the project. Stanco would then buy the property for the CRA.

In 2008 the city approved the 30-unit senior citizens complex near the Clinton Whitmore Mansion.

The approval process included a rezoning of the property and approval to split the 2.6-acre parcel into three separate parcels. The Popes plan to keep the mansion available as an event center while Victorian Village develops around it.

The CRA is looking specifically to buy two of the newly created parcels. The first parcel will contain a 20,860-square-foot two-story building comprised of 26 residential units and a parking lot. The second parcel of nearly 12,000 square feet - located northeast of the mansion - will contain a four-unit single-story cottage with five parking spaces.

Victorian Village will strictly be available to low- and very-low-income senior citizens. Seniors will have to fall into two categories: those making 80 percent of the median income; and 20 percent of the units will be set aside for those making 50 percent of median income or less.