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2008 MFE Awards Merit: Best Reuse of Land

San Jose, Calif., is the hub of Silicon Valley?one of the nation's most expensive housing markets. Still, it's hard to believe that MacFarlane Costa Housing Partners went to a blighted, old winery to find affordable dirt on which to build. But that's exactly what the developer, based out of Long Beach, Calif., did.

The problem? After being a winery, the site had also been home to a car wash, heavy equipment wrecking and storage facilities, and a bingo parlor. With extensive environmental remediation and demolition, the site became home to Almaden Apartments, MacFarlane Costa's 100 percent affordable, 226-unit project.

MacFarlane tried to establish a strong sense of place and community with the classic garden-style architecture. The project, which was originally conceived as a condo structure in 2001, includes a mix of stucco and wood siding and attractive gabled roof treatments with below-podium secured parking. The design has gone over well in the local market. The project, which has scarce three-bedroom units and rents ranging from $951 to $1,584 per month, is 100 percent occupied with a wait list.