Affordable Workforce Housing Breaks Ground in Sunnyvale near Jobs and Transit

Groundbreaking at Edwina Benner Plaza, a Development of MidPen Housing

City and County leaders join MidPen in celebrating the Groundbreaking of Benner Plaza in Sunnyvale.

City and County leaders join MidPen in celebrating the Groundbreaking of Benner Plaza in Sunnyvale.

On June 29th Sunnyvale Mayor Glenn Hendricks, Ky Le, Director of the County of Santa Clara Office of Supportive Housing and Kevin Zwick, CEO of Housing Trust Silicon Valley, joined other city and county leaders to celebrate the groundbreaking of Edwina Benner Plaza, an affordable rental apartment community being developed by MidPen Housing.

Edwina Benner Plaza (“Benner Plaza”), which will provide 66 affordable homes for families and individuals, is a response to the tremendous need for affordable workforce housing in the heart of the Silicon Valley. Located near the intersection of two major thoroughfares – highways 237 and 101 – as well as Moffett Park which houses the headquarters of Yahoo, NetApp and Juniper Networks, residents of Benner Plaza will live in very close proximity to thousands of jobs, public transportation, and many community amenities. Local businesses will benefit from additional permanent housing for their lower-income workers and residents will benefit from reduced housing costs in one of the nation’s most expensive housing markets.

Named in honor of Edwina Benner, California’s first female mayor who served as the Mayor of Sunnyvale from 1924 to 1926 and again from 1938 to 1940, Benner Plaza will help pave the way to Net Zero Energy and Net Zero Carbon multifamily housing. The development is part of a California Energy Commission EPIC Grant with the goal of eliminating the use of gas entirely and radically reducing its carbon footprint.

“Edwina Benner was a leader as California’s first female mayor and this community named in her honor exemplifies Sunnyvale’s leadership with affordable housing and climate action,” said Glenn Hendricks, Mayor of Sunnyvale. “We could not be prouder of our 47-year partnership with MidPen that will result in yet another outstanding housing development for some of the most vulnerable members of our community.”

Benner Plaza is expected to welcome its first residents in fall 2018. The community will provide 30 one bedroom, 19 two-bedroom, and 17 three-bedroom apartments for individuals and families earning up to 60% of Area Media Income (AMI) which is $71,640 for a family of four. Residents will also enjoy a community room with kitchen, computer lab, fitness center, children’s playground, a courtyard, and secured bike parking. Thirteen apartments will be reserved for formerly homeless community members and 10 apartments for those at-risk of homelessness.

“The City of Sunnyvale has long been forward-thinking in their commitment to provide a wide range of housing solutions for their diverse residents,” said Jan Lindenthal, Vice President of Real Estate Development. “Benner Plaza is another example of this leadership and furthers their vision to transform this key Sunnyvale neighborhood into one where residents will have easy access to employment opportunities, schools, parks, retail and public transit.”

Benner Plaza, an all-electric building, is being designed to set a high bar for green affordable housing and is targeting a GreenPoint Rated Platinum Certification. Among the notable green features: an innovative central hot water system which uses electric heat pumps instead of gas and eliminates carbon-intensive on-site combustion in favor of super-efficient electric processes that can be powered by 100% clean, renewable energy; a rooftop solar array that covers 90% of the available roof; water-efficient fixtures and landscaping; zero-VOC paint; low-VOC flooring; and energy efficient appliances. Additionally, all Benner Plaza residents will receive a free VTA pass with the nearest light rail station a mere quarter mile walk away.

Financing for the $44.2 million development was provided by the City of Sunnyvale, County of Santa Clara, Housing Authority of the County of Santa Clara, Housing Trust Silicon Valley, Technology Credit Union, Bank of America, and the California Tax Credit Allocation Committee.

“As housing rents continue to soar, we need to find new ways to help alleviate the homelessness and transition more people and families into safe affordable housing across Santa Clara county, such as creative reuse of underutilized commercial space,” said Raquel Gonzalez, Silicon Valley market president, Bank of America. “Bank of America is a leader in affordable housing finance, having financed over $200 million and 2,000 units county-wide over the decade, so we were excited to work with MidPen, one of the most respected regional developers in Northern California, to provide over $31 million in financing to help make this important project come to life.”

MidPen Resident Services will provide a broad array of services to empower residents of Benner Plaza to advance in all areas of their lives. This includes an Academically-based After School and Summer Program for youth; financial capability courses, vocational training, health and wellness programs, computer lab and assistance, and connection to community resources. Onsite case management and supportive services will be provided for the 13 formerly homeless households. MidPen Property Management Corp. will provide onsite professional property management.