The Orange Villas Complex has only been open for a year, but it has already won one award and is vying for a second.
Last year the units at 225 Orange Avenue received a Merit Award in the Renovated or Restored Single House or Project Category from the American Builders Gold Nugget Awards.
Both were funded by the Coronado Development Agency, which like other redevelopment agencies, closed in February following due to a state decision.
This year the units at 450 Orange, another part of the project, are up for in the 50-unit or under category.
To those in the affordable housing community, the awards are a big deal.
“It’s the one thing we have in the county that honors what we do,” said Caroline Epps, a resident service director for the San Diego Interfaith Housing Foundation, which runs the complex.
A housing federation official, Susan Riggs Tinsky, said Coronado was chosen because the city committed funds for the project.
“We look for innovation, service and community involvement,” said Tinsky, the federation’s executive director. “That redevelopment money was used to build the complex clearly shows community involvement.”
The Spanish bungalow-style building has six townhouse units with two bedrooms, five one-bedroom units and a studio.
According to Mike Coleman, who moved in a year ago, his space has everything he could ask for: ceiling fans, a wall heater, microwave, stove, refrigerator, washer and dryer, marble countertops and a covered garage for his car.
“They built it from the ground up, everything is new here,” he said. “I’ve never lived in a new apartment before.”
This quality is not unique. For Coronado the units don't look out of place. From the beginning the goal was to build something decent and durable –it’s what affordable housing advocates strive for, Trinsky points out.
“In attractiveness and quality these are as nice if not nicer than adjacent properties,” she said.
Coleman’s only complaint is the location. “Having cars drive by all the time gets annoying, but I’m getting acclimatized to it,” he said.
Rent for a one-bedroom like Coleman’s is $715 per month, according to Alexcis Melendez, who manages the complex. A two bedroom rents for $807.
For comparison, a similar two-bedroom apartment in Coronado rents for $1,400 to $1,600, according to realtor Mike Napolitano.
“Some people are getting as high as $1,700,” he added.
To qualify, a single person cannot earn more than $26,225 a year. Couples and families are allowed to earn more. “After you move in your income can increase by 40%, but if you’re a penny over when you apply, you’ll be turned down,” Melendez said.
But even meeting these requirements won’t get you an apartment. There is a waiting list with over 100 people on it. “We take our waiting list very seriously,” Melendez said. “It is strictly first come, first served.