Smart Growth Illustrated
Hismen Hin-Nu Terrace, Oakland, California
Hismen Hin-Nu Terrace, a 1.5-acre mixed-use development in the San Antonio district of Oakland, California, revitalized a distressed community and provided a variety of high-quality, affordable homes by redeveloping an abandoned retail site. In a joint venture, the San Antonio Community Development Corporation, East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation, and the Oakland Redevelopment Agency redeveloped an abandoned grocery store site. As a result, the neighborhood now has 92 affordable rental homes, a community center, three courtyards, and commercial space, including an early childhood education center, nonprofit offices, a convenience store, and a marketplace for street vendors.
The housing ranges from one- and two-bedroom apartments to three- and four-bedroom townhouses. Amenities include covered parking, wall-to-wall carpeting, dishwashers, and garbage disposals. The units provide high-quality homes for lower income families and seniors, as 40 percent of the units will be available to households at 35 percent of median area income, with the remainder for those at 50 to 60 percent of median area income.
Michael Pyatok, the project architect, engaged community members in interactive design workshops. The workshop participants decided to step down the height of the building from four stories in front to three stories in back to create courtyard space for children's play while maintaining a relatively high residential density of 61 units per acre to keep the units affordable. In addition, the community chose a variety of finishing materials because they were perceived as more environmentally friendly. The resulting building reflects the Mission Revival style of older apartment buildings in the neighborhood. Balconies and windows on the street side allow residents to watch over the street, improving the community's security.
Also on the street front is a two-story market hall that houses local vendors and start-up businesses both inside and outside along the building's facade. This entrepreneurial activity contributes to the vibrancy of the street, creating, together with the landscaping, a comfortable, safe, walkable neighborhood. The building is on a major bus route that connects to the Fruitvale BART station two-thirds of a mile away.
Hismen Hin-Nu Terrace also benefited from a National Endowment for the Arts grant that allowed it to create and display a variety of outdoor art that celebrates the cultural diversity of the residents and the neighborhood.
Hismen Hin-Nu Terrace's success has been recognized with numerous awards, including the Rudy Bruner Silver Medal Award in 1997 for Excellence in Urban Environment, the Gold Nugget Award for Best Affordable Housing Development at the Pacific Coast Builders Conference in 1995, and the National Award for Merit from the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials in 1995. It has also spurred redevelopment in the surrounding neighborhood, including a new housing development across the street, a convenience store, and the renovation of two neighborhood restaurants.