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Blackstone Avenue Housing Proposal Faces Criticism



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A $38 million affordable housing project proposed for Blackstone and McKinley is drawing skepticism from Fresno City Councilmember Steve Brandau.
The publicly funded project envisions two multi-story apartment buildings at a three-acre site near Fresno City College. The ground floor of each building would be reserved for retail and other uses, including a possible Senior Center.
While Brandau supports affordable housing for lower-income residents, he says the price tag to taxpayers for the 88 unit development is too high.
“If you do the math, you quickly see that’s about $435,000 per apartment unit. That just doesn’t make sense to me.” At that cost, Brandau says, “we could buy them a house in Northwest Fresno and buy them a car and a motorcycle and a year’s worth of groceries. So, this is not a great use of the taxpayers’ money.”
The city’s redevelopment agency is proposing the project in collaboration with a group of housing investors. The agency’s staff report says the development aligns with the city’s general plan which encourages infill and promotes greater housing density along the city’s transit corridors.
The proposed apartment complex is located along one of the city’s busiest streets where future Bus Rapid Transit stops are planned.
Brandau ultimately blames burdensome state regulations for the high cost of the proposed development.
“Realistically, I’d love to see a nice apartment complex here where (residents) could go out on Blackstone, grab a bus and go anywhere they want,” he said. “At face value, the concept is good. But the amount of money for this thing is prohibitive for the taxpayer,” Brandau continued. “We’re not getting enough bang for the buck.”
City Council members are scheduled to vote on the proposal at Thursday’s meeting.
Update: During today’s meeting, Council President Olivier announced that this item has been rescheduled and will now be heard on December 7. GV Wire will continue to follow developments.

Randy Reed is a writer and content producer for GV Wire. He has experience reporting for local radio stations and newspapers. In addition, he an extensive background in video production focused on news and documentary subjects. Reed is a proud graduate of California State University, Fresno with a degree in Mass Communications. In his free time, Reed enjoys digital photography as a hobby and loves to explore the scenic beauty of our Valley’s three spectacular National Parks. You can contact Randy at 559-705-2107 or Send an Email.