Affordable Housing Community Underway for San Mateo County Residents

Groundbreaking at Firehouse Square held; kicking off construction for mixed-use development
October 2, 2020
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On October 2nd, San Mateo County and City of Belmont officials joined other local leaders to celebrate the groundbreaking of Firehouse Square Apartments, an affordable rental community being developed by MidPen Housing.

Firehouse Square will bring 66 affordable homes for families and individuals earning between 30-80 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI) and 3,300 square feet of ground floor retail to an amenity-rich downtown Belmont corner. The unique design includes incorporating the façade of the existing vacant historic Firehouse building into the Mission-style Architectural exterior design. Residents will enjoy onsite amenities such as a community barbecue, playground, and open seating. They will also have access to a community room with computers, a large meeting space, after-school room and bike storage.

“This development is one that is greatly needed in the City of Belmont,” stated Belmont Mayor, Warren Lieberman. “Between the services offered, jobs created and overall community improvements it will provide for so many. We are excited, and anxious to see construction begin on this very important expansion for our great city.”

Firehouse Square is the culmination of several long-range planning and visionary efforts by the City of Belmont and San Mateo County which prioritized vibrant, mixed-use, community-oriented developments. MidPen partnered with Sares Regis in 2018 to develop a portion of this city-owned property, located in downtown Belmont, that was originally planned for market-rate apartments with an inclusionary requirement. In Fall 2019, only a few months after successful entitlement, the project was successfully awarded Federal and State credits through the competitive 4% tax credit application process.

“MidPen Housing is thrilled to partner with the city of Belmont, and County of San Mateo to create this much needed and innovative mixed-use development,” stated Matthew O. Franklin, President and CEO of MidPen Housing. “This development is truly a collaborative effort that includes affordable housing, community areas, retail, and green spaces, and a beautiful design complementing the historic component of the area. We’re excited to work together and help the City achieve its visionary, goals for neighborhood transformation.”

Located in the southern end of the Belmont Village Priority Development Area, the area was identified as the perfect location due to its proximity to public transit and a mix of commercial and residential uses. The housing community will be adjacent to several diverse retail and restaurant businesses and is within a half mile of a number of amenities, including a Caltrain stop, three bus stops, three pharmacies, a public park, Safeway grocery store, and a public middle school.

Besides homes and amenities, MidPen will also offer its Family Services Program at Firehouse Square The program will help working-age adults build resources, better manage their assets, and advance their educational and/or career goals. This includes computer training, literacy development, referrals to social services, benefits and resources, volunteer opportunities and training. The After-School Program will provide academic youth services based on four core elements: homework assistance, nutritious snacks, enrichment and literacy.

The Firehouse Square project is a combined effort among local and regional agencies, with Belmont generously contributing the site via a long-term, below market ground lease, and the County of San Mateo County providing 33 project-based Section 8 vouchers, eight of which will target residents with intellectual/developmental disabilities. Construction is expected to take approximately two years.