Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Vacaville Council approves condo conversion

Article Last Updated: Wednesday, Apr 20, 2005 - 12:18:50 am PDT

Council approves conversion

By Claire St. John

VACAVILLE - The Planning Commission unanimously approved the conversion of senior apartments to senior condominiums on Tuesday night.The issue initially caused a stir among the residents of Oaks Senior Apartments on Eastwood Drive, and some moved out before Christmas."When we notified the residents of our intent to file a subdivision map, a lot of them left," said Chris Valeriote, president of Terra Nova Development, Inc., which owns the apartment complex.Soon after, Phil Venable, a Contra Costa County inspector who lives in Vacaville, suggested that Valeriote consider offering residents 62 and older a lifetime lease on their units."Most of the residents felt they'd be unable to afford to buy their units," Venable said. "They didn't want this sort of disruption in their lives."

Valeriote agreed and went one step further. If tenants did choose to leave, he said, Terra Nova Development would offer $1,000 for moving expenses, an immediate deposit refund and lots of rent reductions if they chose to move to one of the several other senior complexes Valeriote runs in Vacaville and Fairfield."When residents heard they would have a lifetime lease, a great deal of joy and relief filled the room," Venable said.Valeriote, who said he builds senior housing as if his mother would live there, said he was happy with the arrangement. "What I bring before you is the best win-win situation I could've imagined," Valeriote told the commission.

Because the 78 two-bedroom apartments were approved in 2000 as senior housing - allowing the developer to build more apartments per acre and receive some tax breaks - the condominiums will only be available to buyers 55 and over.Valeriote said he has no intention of turning his other senior apartment complexes into condominium complexes, but Venable told the commission that a law needs to be in place in case future complex owners aren't as honorable as Valeriote. The item would have to be put on an agenda by a City Council member, and Venable said he's already discussed a lifetime lease law with a councilman.

Contact Claire St. John at 427-6955 or cstjohn@dailyrepublic.net.

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