Journal of Housing & Community Development

Award of Excellence: Prosperity Place

October 7, 2019

The Oakland Housing Authority (OHC) wins a 2018 Award of Excellence in Project Design for their part in developing the Prosperity Place Apartments in downtown Oakland. Nominated from among the NAHRO Award of Merit winners each year, the Awards of Excellence winners are chosen by national juries and honored at the annual National Conference and Exhibition in October. They represent the very best in innovative programs in assisted housing and community development. 

The East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation (EBALDC), a non-profit community development organization, approached the Oakland Housing Authority (OHA) with a partnership proposal to build an affordable housing development on a tight, two-thirds acre urban site at the edge of the city’s historic Chinatown. The result was the Prosperity Place Apartments, a five-story, mixed-use building with 71 units that also houses a dental clinic that serves the community. Situated at a busy intersection in downtown Oakland, the building’s design and color palette complement the condominiums across the street. Prosperity Place’s red accents (the color symbolizes prosperity in Chinese culture) and the metal-paneled dragon tail that cascades from the roof down to the lobby also create a visual link to nearby Chinatown.  

The building designers wanted these homes to be “functional, secure, efficient, and sensitively-designed” and to provide spaces that give the residents a sense of community. The outdoor courtyard, a popular common space, has a patio with tables and seating, a trellis, a children’s play area, an office, a laundry room, and a free-standing community room.   

To increase environmental sustainability, the project was designed to meet the Platinum level of the GreenPoint rating system, the highest rating. Prosperity Place surpasses energy code requirements by 30 percent, thanks to a well-insulated building shell, sunshades, roof-mounted photovoltaic panels, solar hot water preheating, and highly efficient HVAC systems. Water-conserving fixtures and drought-tolerant landscaping further reduce the building’s environmental footprint. 

Prosperity Place’s location is extremely convenient for walkers and public transit users – it’s a 10-minute walk away from downtown Oakland, and five to 10 minutes away from two subway stations and a bus line. A museum, a library, and a community college are also walking distance from the building. There’s a school directly across the street; restaurants, shops, a post office and other consumer-serving businesses are also nearby. 

The total cost of the development was approximately $34 million, with funds coming from Wells Fargo, the Alameda County Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) program, the City of Oakland HOME Program, the California Community Reinvestment Corporation, the State of California Housing and Community Development Infill Infrastructure program, and the OHA. OHA acquired the property from EBALDC for $5.4 million and participated in the project’s development and financing. In addition, OHA allocated Project-Based Section 8 vouchers for 35 of the 71 units to provide affordable housing for low-income families in the area.  

By partnering with a local community development agency, OHA was able to provide sustainable, high-density affordable housing that strengthened the community and provided a sense of connection to the neighborhood’s history and culture.  

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