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Affordable housing project in Sunnyvale breaks ground

MidPen Housing vice president of real estate development Jan Lindenthal, fourth from left, niece to Edwina Benner, Beverley David, fifth from left, and Sunnyvale Mayor Glenn Hendricks, center, celebrate the groundbreaking for the Edwina Benner Plaza affordable housing project on June 29. (Photograph by Victoria Kezra) —

Construction is about to begin on a 66-unit affordable housing project named after the first female mayor in California.

Sunnyvale city officials and project supporters were in attendance June 29 for a groundbreaking ceremony for the Edwina Benner Plaza affordable housing project at 460 Persian Drive.

Benner, a Sunnyvale mayor from 1924 to 1926 and again from 1937 to 1938, was the first female mayor in the state. Benner’s niece, Beverley David, was on hand to thank the city for the honor of naming the project after her “Auntie Wina.”

“This will continue to pay tribute to one of Sunnyvale’s most admired citizens,” David said, recalling her aunt’s path from cannery worker to mayor as well as a 28-year tenure on the city council.

The nonprofit MidPen Housing is the project developer. When complete, it will be home to individuals or families earning 60 percent of the median income in the region.

Of the 66 units, 30 will be 560-square-foot one-bedroom units with monthly rents of $557 to $1,185. Nineteen two-bedroom units will be 870 to 925 square feet with monthly rents ranging from $655 to $1,409. Seventeen three-bedroom units will range from 1,097 to 1,346 square feet with rent at $747 to $1,617 per month, according to MidPen Housing.

Jan Lindenthal, vice president of real estate development for MidPen Housing, said 10 units would be set aside for formerly homeless residents, 13 would be reserved for families at risk of homelessness and 43 units will be targeted for people who live and work in Sunnyvale. Free transit passes will be provided to tenants.

Planned amenities include a computer lab, fitness center, playground and case management assistance.

During the ceremony, Mayor Glenn Hendricks praised the project for providing housing near jobs, schools and public transit.

“With projects like this we move toward providing more long-term housing solutions for homeless and lower-income members of our community,” he said.

In January 2015, MidPen Housing submitted its project proposal to the city. The total estimated cost is $44.3 million, with some funding coming from the state’s Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities Grant Program as well as a $7.42 million loan from the city. Other funding sources include the Santa Clara County Housing Authority, the Housing Trust of Silicon Valley, Technology Credit Union, the California Tax Credit Allocation Committee and Bank of America, according to staff.

The site was occupied by a single-story commercial building that has since been demolished. It was home to several small businesses, including a gift shop, an Indian market and an employment agency.