By Matthew Power At an average of 29 units per acre, residential construction doesn't get much denser than this mixed-income project, set close to regional public transport and done without planning variances.

That density, notes architect David Baker, was part of the key to keeping units affordable. The project included 141 lofts and rental units (54 for sale, 87 rental) packed into 3.7 acres.

"We value engineered everything," notes Baker. "We wanted to put market rate and affordable units together. For the affordable units, we have a waiting list of thousands of people."

For-sale units in the development sell from $375,000 to $450,000, with rentals ranging from $330 to $875 per month--far below the local average.

Photo: Michelle Peckham

The design theme includes high ceilings, numerous windows, and skylights for abundant natural light. Double-height common spaces with large window walls gave the architect a focal point around which to design lofted studio units--increasing density without adding floors. And thanks to the proximity to transit, the project had a reduced parking requirement--about 1.2 cars per unit. "A lot of developers go after the same market everybody else is serving," Baker adds. "This project went after a market no one was serving. It's successful--and painless. People can live here for a lot less than San Francisco in a much more urban setting."

One interesting twist on clever mixing of amenities: People living in the market-rate units must pay the affordable tenants to use their pool.

Category: Community with mixed housing types; Entrant/Architect: David Baker + Partners, Architects, San Francisco; Builders: Cannon Constructors, San Francisco and Segue Construction, Point Richmond, Calif.; Developers: Holliday Development, Emeryville, Calif., and BRIDGE Housing, San Francisco; Landscape Architect: Miller Company Landscape, San Francisco; Interior Designer: Design Mesh, Orinda, Calif.

Photo: Michelle Peckham

High Lights

Instead of dropping skylights in the ceilings of upper units, the architect called for deep-set recesses, using the existing factory-built trusses. The openings were then encased in drywall, increasing the value of loft units at little extra cost.

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