2013-09-19 / Front Page

Many Mansions suspends plans for senior apartments on E. Hillcrest

Nonprofit succumbs to pressure from neighbors
Staff reports

Facing mounting pressure from residents living along the E. Hillcrest Drive corridor, nonprofit home builder Many Mansions has decided to pull the plug on its plans to build an apartment complex for low-income seniors known as Thomas Terrace.

In a press release sent Tuesday night, Rick Schroeder, president of Many Mansions, said that the board of directors of the T.O.-based nonprofit had “decided to suspend its efforts to obtain approval of a planned 82-unit senior housing complex at 2080 E. Hillcrest Drive.”

“The board of directors decided to suspend the planned project because of neighborhood opposition to any new multifamily development on Hillcrest Drive between Erbes (Road) and Westlake Boulevard,” the press release states. “Although Many Mansions staff met with the neighbors, made numerous design changes to the layout, and proposed other changes, the neighbors stated they would oppose any multifamily development.

“Because Many Mansions has always worked closely with the community in their affordable housing needs, the board of directors concluded that it was in the best interests of the organization and the community to suspend this project.”

Many Mansions first came before the City Council in April with a proposal for the complex for seniors 55 and up. Plans included two, three-story apartment buildings and one two-story building. At the time, the council agreed to a conditional loan of $2 million to cover pre-development costs and the cost of purchasing the site, which contains a boarded-up 1950s home, as well as to expediting the application process.

Before it could get final approval, Many Mansions needed a General Plan amendment and zone change to allow higher density housing on the proposed project site—which is currently zoned rural exclusive—a move that residents living nearby were staunchly against.

Opponents said the chosen site for Thomas Terrace, named after late property owner Frank Thomas as a condition imposed by his son and daughter, who are selling the land, would result in an overconcentration of affordable housing in the area. They also argued that the cluster would increase traffic congestion and lower their home values.

Just this week, signs sprung up along E. Hillcrest Drive and surrounding streets stating: “Help Your Community. STOP High Density Zoning Changes on the Hillcrest Corridor.”

Although the board of directors has decided to suspend the proposal, it affirmed in the press release sent Tuesday its continued desire to work with the community and with the city to develop low-income housing for seniors.

“We reject statements made by some of the neighbors that additional senior housing was not necessary in Thousand Oaks and would be a blight to the community,” Schroeder is quoted as saying. “We believe that additional senior housing is much needed.”

See full story in Thursday’s paper.

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