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2008 MFE Awards Merit: Low-Rise

by Jennifer Popovec

Successful affordable apartments get a lot of accolades?but you rarely hear that they're so appealing and well designed, you can't tell they're affordable. With Gateway Apartments, a 42-unit project in San Diego developed by Long Beach, Calif.-based MacFarlane Costa Housing Partners, that's more than just lip service.

With this project, MacFarlane Costa went beyond bringing much-needed housing to San Diego's Barrio Logan neighborhood. It brought an attractive sense of place to a neighborhood very close to Petco Park where the buildings had been run down for years. In fact, the project is the first new housing development in the neighborhood in many years.

On the exterior, the project features Latino-themed murals and modern design features such as natural stone accents, a warm color palette, and upper-level common-area balconies with a view of the downtown skyline and a central courtyard. Inside, there are built-in appliances, walk-in closets, cable television hookups, and a computer learning center with Internet. It also has a large number of two- and hard-to-find three-bedroom apartments. The units start at $498 a month and serve people earning between 30 percent and 60 percent of area median income.