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These historic apartments near the state Capitol just rented for $470 to $940 a month

Take a 360 tour of the Bel Vue apartments, Sacramento’s newest affordable housing units

The rehabilitated Bel Vue apartments opened on Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019. The 22 affordable housing apartment units are available to people that make less than $17,600 per year. Pan or tilt this 360-degree video to see the whole room.
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The rehabilitated Bel Vue apartments opened on Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019. The 22 affordable housing apartment units are available to people that make less than $17,600 per year. Pan or tilt this 360-degree video to see the whole room.

It was a small victory on the affordable housing front. But a notable one nonetheless.

On Wednesday, city of Sacramento and state officials gathered to fete the opening of the rehabilitated Bel Vue apartments, a previously vacant and decrepit 1909 landmark building on Eighth Street near L Street, two blocks from the state Capitol.

The renovation adds 22 apartments to downtown’s still-small stable of housing for very low income workers. The units are already rented out at $470 to $941 a month, with a wait list.

“I wish it were 220 apartments,” project architect Mike Malinowski said.

The lowest rents are set for people who earn less than $17,600 a year, which amounts to a part-time job at minimum wage. The higher-end rents are for those whose annual income is a bit above minimum wage. Some units were made available to people who qualify for government vouchers that help them pay for part of their rent.

The reopening of the historic structure marks another step toward the city’s goal of creating thousands of affordable units in the central city in the next decade, downtown City Council representative Steve Hansen said.

Those could include “efficiency housing” or tiny homes for homeless people coming in off the street, as well as inexpensive market-rate apartments for everyday workers whose paychecks are modest. All of them, though, are expected to need some form of government housing subsidy to encourage developers to rent at low rates to qualifying low-income earners.

The $7.5 Bel Vue million renovation was financed with several million dollars of backing from state housing officials and the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Authority, which issued a loan.

The reopening also launches revitalization of a key downtown block, L Street between Eighth and Ninth streets, as well as the corner of Eighth and K. Buildings there have been either knocked down or shuttered for years.

“We’re very proud of the Bel Vue Apartments, which restores a historic gem in the core of Sacramento’s downtown and provides a dynamic housing opportunity for the city’s workforce community,” said Cyrus Youssefi, CFY Development president.

It’s also the second of a string of affordable projects CFY Development and partners are doing in cooperation with local and state housing officials. Youssefi, in conjunction with Bay Miry and other partners, recently opened The Hardin, a newly-constructed affordable housing project across Eighth Street where some rents were under $800 for studio apartments. CFY also plans an affordable apartment complex at 17th and S streets, next to the new Ice Blocks.

CFY and the Sacramento Kings holding company now plan 150 apartments with downstairs commercial in two buildings to be constructed adjacent to the Bel Vue, one at the corner of Eighth and L, the other at the corner of Eighth and K.

Speakers at the Wednesday event paid hommage to Cyrus’ son, Ali Youssefi, who died of cancer last year. He was one of Sacramento’s modern pioneers of affordable housing and launched the CFY projects now underway.

“Our job is to take Ali’s vision and replicate it throughout the city,” Mayor Darrell Steinberg said.

Affordable housing has emerged as one of the most important public policy conundrums in California and its capital city. As rental rates soared in recent years, Sacramento and other cities have struggled to create housing for lower income workers.

City officials however plan next year to sell up to $100 million in bonds, backed by Measure U sales tax revenues, to be used to help developers finance more affordable housing projects.

“If we do this right, we will have the opportunity to do this (Bel Vue project) times 100,” Steinberg said.

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Tony Bizjak has been reporting for The Bee for 30 years. He covers transportation, housing and development and previously was the paper’s City Hall beat reporter.
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