The Dirt: AMCAL’s $40 Million Affordable Senior Housing Conversion

At a Glance

Developer: Amcal Multi-Housing Inc.
What: A two-phase, approximately $40 million project to convert the abandoned Linda Vista Community Hospital and an adjacent former nurses’  residence building into affordable senior housing units
Number of units planned: 120
Where: The Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles, Calif. 
Major capital sources: A combination of federal grants, which for the $8.9 million first phase of development included: $2.64 million in federal tax credit equity; $1.25 million in historic tax credits; $4.21 million from the LA Housing Department and Restore Neighborhoods LA; and $760,000 in tax exempt bonds/permanent loans.
Cost per unit: $210,000
Architect: Killefer Flammang Architects 

The Dirt

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A former hospital with a varied history is gaining a new identity as an affordable senior housing complex through an approximately $40 million AMCAL Multi-Housing Inc. project.

The California-based developer recently completed the first of two phases of construction on the Linda Vista Community Hospital complex with the $8.9 million conversion of a former nurses’ dormitory into 23 units of 62+ housing. The main hospital conversion is slated to begin this November and be completed by summer 2014.

“Through a successful partnership with our investors and the community of Boyle Heights, AMCAL is pleased to provide quality affordable housing for seniors while preserving and revitalizing one of the neighborhood’s best known landmarks,” said Percival Vaz, AMCAL’s CEO. 

Both the hospital and the nurses’ dormitory are on the National Register of Historic Places and are also locally designated as historic. That forced the developer’s hand to go the conversion route. 

“There was no option to do [ground-up] development, because the buildings had to be preserved,” said Dayna Ranger, a project manager at AMCAL.

The hospital was originally built in the early 1900s to treat employees of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway. It closed in 1991 but has been a popular filming site throughout the years for movies and TV shows, including “ER.” 

A number of other developers considered the site for condos or market rate housing, but AMCAL ultimately succeeded in securing the property for an affordable, age-restricted housing project. AMCAL develops a number of affordable housing types, including student and family housing, in addition to senior housing. Its vertically integrated structure includes acquisition, development, finance, asset management, and construction departments, which according to its website results in efficiencies and cost savings. 

While the developer hires third-party property mangers for its developments, it also has in-house managers that oversee operations, according to Ranger. Its age-restricted developments are for independent seniors, but some supportive services are available to residents, including social services, health and wellness education, and other resources as needed.

What to Watch For

The decision to develop in a given location is based on that community’s need, said Ranger, and more projects could be en route. 

“We have a number of senior housing developments and are always open to developing more,” Ranger said, although the company doesn’t plan to specifically focus more on seniors going forward. “There is always a need for affordable housing in California, and for seniors, many of whom are on fixed incomes.”  

Who’s getting dirty? Email us about other notable senior living construction projects or pipeline. 

Written by Alyssa Gerace

Editor’s note: The Dirt is a new Senior Housing News feature highlighting upcoming or current senior living construction projects that have interesting or unusual angles. Send suggestions for The Dirt to editor@seniorhousingnews.com. 

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