SANTA ANA, CA-Locally based Urban Housing Communities has begunconstruction on a 42-unit, $17 million affordable apartment complexfor families that will be the first such project in Big Bear Lake.Called the Crossings at Big Bear Lake, the development is under wayon 2.6 acres along Knickerbocker Road between Pennsylvania Avenueand Maryland Road south of Big Bear Boulevard (Highway 18).

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Designed by architecture and planning firm KTGY Group Inc., theCrossings is being developed in collaboration with the City of BigBear Lake's Improvement Agency and Bank of America. Scheduled forcompletion next summer, it will feature 28 two-bedroom, two-storytownhomes and 14 three-bedroom, single-story flats averagingapproximately 1,100 square feet.

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The Crossings is designed for local working families earningbetween 30% and 60% of San Bernardino County median income. Rentsare expected to range from $449 to $1,038 per month, based onfamily size and income level.

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John Bigley, chief operating officer of Urban HousingCommunities, points out that although most people know Big BearLake as a vacation destination, "It's also a city that confrontsthe same issues of housing, healthcare and education as more urbanareas." As a result, Bigley says, "A certain level of affordabilityis required to sustain the local work force that supports thecity's year-round recreation activities," such as skiing andsnowboarding during the winter and boating and biking in thesummer. While Big Bear does offer some affordable housing, itsstock consists mainly of aging single-family homes and oneaffordable senior community.

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Urban Housing Communities partnered with the City of Big BearLake's Improvement Agency in 2009 to increase the city's affordablehousing stock. The Improvement Agency committed funding through asoft loan and UHC secured financing through the highly competitive9% tax credit program. Additional financing for the project wasprovided by the Bank of America Community Development Corporation,Bank of America, National Equity Fund and the American Recovery andReinvestment Act of 2009.

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Situated adjacent to a new neighborhood of single-family homesand across from Big Bear Elementary School, the Crossings at BigBear Lake is being developed on formerly vacant, untended property.KTGY principal Chris Texter points out that the project is part ofa redevelopment infill. It includes heavy timber gable end framing,stone veneer and siding. Each building is planned "to respect andadd to the current street scene, residences, trees and other siteopportunities," Texter says. The apartments are oriented around acentral garden, tot lot and community center amenities for thefamilies, he adds.

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The developers describe the new complex as convenient toschools, public transportation, shopping, medical services, apublic park and recreation areas. It is approximately a 10-minutewalk from Big Bear Lake Village, the city's premier shopping andentertainment district.

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SL Residential, the general contractor for the project, beganconstruction on July 15 and plans to recycle at least 75% ofconstruction waste, and the project will employ a host of othereco-friendly design features. The Crossings at Big Bear Lake isUHC's second project to begin construction in less than 30 days. Itrecently broke ground on the Crossings at Escondido, aKTGY-designed residential community that will feature 55 affordableapartments for working families in San Diego County.

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