Patricia Badiou had her choice of new senior housing developments in Huntington Beach, but she decided that the Fresno Housing Authority’s new Swedish architecturally-designed apartments in Kingsburg was home.
Badiou, a former Kingsburg resident who has lived in southern California for the last two years, moved into one of the 46 apartments at Marion Villas, just a block north of downtown, a week ago. On Thursday, she joined other residents and leaders from the city of Kingsburg and the housing authority to celebrate the development’s grand opening.
“I lived in a community of 200,000 people and they were building senior housing in different places, but none of them as beautiful as this,” Badiou said. “I think that Kingsburg is very fortunate to have this in our area.”
Marion Villas is the authority’s first development in Kingsburg and its third housing project for seniors. One is in Fresno and a second is under construction in Firebaugh, said Preston Prince, the agency’s executive director.
A for-profit developer originally had plans to turn the blighted Kingsburg property into a housing complex, but couldn’t get it completed. That’s when the authority stepped in with help from Fresno County which provided $1 million in HOME funds to fund the project. Another $7 million in low-income tax credits was also used. The process wasn’t easy, Prince said, and required several meetings with city leaders.
“As we came into town, there were questions and concerns about whether the housing authority would bring in a design and a care and concern for the community – I think we’ve done that,” Prince said.
Visitors to the two-story apartment complex painted in soft green, pink and white with exposed timbers were happy with the how the development matched the city’s Swedish history. The authority even placed a blue dala horse, a wooden horse popular in Swedish culture, in front of the development. There are two others in the city.
“This is a beautiful project,” said city council member Michelle Roman. “And now we have a long term partner that developed a key vacant piece of property near our downtown.”