Hub in the Heights

engagED voices feature key initiatives in the region to educate community members about the developments underway in our region. For this month’s feature, we talked with GSEC Board Member, Dwayne Crenshaw, President and CEO of the Greater Sacramento Urban League about the exciting project “Hub in the Heights” being led by GSUL. Read on to learn more.

Please provide a high-level overview of the project.

Greater Sacramento Urban League (GSUL), in partnership with public and private investors and the dynamic Del Paso Heights community, is spearheading the development of a long overdue and urgently needed mixed-use commercial/retail, affordable housing and economic empowerment center – Hub in The Heights (The Hub). This nonprofit led, place-based initiative is designed to encourage private and public sector investments along the Marysville Boulevard corridor in Del Paso Heights. These investments will spur economic development, job growth, new, affordable, multi-family housing and enhance the quality of life in the surrounding community.

Specifically, The Hub is a proposed six-story, nearly 80,000 sq. ft. mixed-used building hosting more than 14,000 sq. ft. of neighborhood serving community/retail/office space, 64 affordable and senior housing units, community gathering space, and an economic empowerment center. The empowerment center will offer financial education/planning, job and career training, HUD-certified housing counseling, entrepreneurial and business development support and other generational wealth creation opportunities.

 

How is this project promoting partnership and inclusion within the Greater Sacramento region?

Marysville Boulevard has long been identified as a struggling corridor with grossly unrealized potential. Since the dissolution of redevelopment in California, the corridor has suffered from increased disinvestment which has resulted in its present blighted condition and an overabundance of vacant lots and abandoned, boarded-up buildings. Over the years, a number of publicly-funded plans and strategies have been developed for Del Paso Heights, including the Del Paso Heights American Institute of Architects Sustainable Design Assessment Team Report among many others. Nothing has ever materialized. Meaningful promotion of partnership and inclusion in the Del Paso Heights community and the Greater Sacramento region at large has not been a hallmark of these failed efforts. This changes with the Hub in The Heights project.

Hub in The Heights is quite intentionally being guided by GSUL from the outset to promote community, philanthropic, public and private partnership in the design, planning, financing, building and ultimately the mixed-use occupancy of The Hub. With Del Paso Heights among the most diverse communities in the Greater Sacramento region, ensuring inclusion is fundamental to every aspect of the project from the composition of the design team to the construction workforce to the future small business owners and residential tenants.

 

What is your long-term vision for this project? How do you imagine it will evolve over time?

In five, ten and for many years down the road we envision a beautifully designed, first class, mixed-use building that would be a jewel project in downtown or anywhere else in the region – but it is in Del Paso Heights – where community-owned small businesses are thriving and diverse seniors, young professionals and small families are living well and are well in a safe, vibrant and highly-desirable residential community.

Perhaps more significant than the exciting individual benefits of the project over time, is the positive evolution of the Del Paso Heights community over time as a result of the project. The intersection of Marysville Boulevard and Grand Avenue has been identified in City of Sacramento reports as the priority area of focus and the key to success of transforming the entire Marysville Boulevard corridor and surrounding community. The Hub proposed development site is strategically located less than 300 feet from the Marysville/Grand intersection and will provide the catalytic spark needed for a dynamic and long overdue economic and environmental transformation along the currently struggling corridor.

 

Is there anything you’d like the community to know about this project, or any ways they can get involved or support its success?

The projected cost of this high-quality, mixed-use affordable housing project is in excess of $30 million. Making the Hub in The Heights a reality, while retaining not-for-profit ownership, is going to require a creative, layered and flexible financing structure. The philanthropic, public, and private sectors can be involved in supporting the success of this project with charitable contributions to our forthcoming capital campaign, offering special construction loan products with favorable terms, in-kind donation of professional and construction services and other unique ideas we may not have even considered. One such unique investment idea we are exploring and hope to bring to fruition is an opportunity for Del Paso Heights community members and other everyday people in the region (and a few wealthier investors) to purchase a small ownership stake in the project – literal community ownership of neighborhood change.

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