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Transit-Oriented Development to
Move Forward in Santa Cruz

This summer, MBEP member Swenson plans to break ground on a mixed-use development at 130 Center Street in Santa Cruz.

When construction is done in about 24 months, the six-story Calypso project will transform an underutilized downtown space into a vibrant, multi-use project that will bring much-needed housing for teachers and seniors, couples and service industry workers.

The development will feature 233 single-room-occupancy units, ranging from 295-square-foot micro-units to 400-square-foot extended units, of which 35 have been designated as affordable housing for very low- and moderate-income residents, along with 2,356 square feet of ground-floor commercial space, underground parking, and a design that encourages pedestrian activity and engagement.

The Santa Cruz City Council last week rejected an appeal made on behalf of Santa Cruz Tomorrow, upholding the Planning Commission’s unanimous approval of permits and a density bonus and allowing the project to now move forward. The project, which was endorsed by MBEP and supported by UCSC students and community advocates, demonstrates how the state’s Density Bonus tool can be an effective way to improve housing affordability and production over time that does not involve additional public subsidy.

Calypso is a transit-oriented mixed-use development that addresses the needs of an urban core, helps reduce the number of vehicle miles traveled in the region, and reduces urban sprawl, says Swenson Development Project Manager Jessie Bristow: Located within a walkable distance from the downtown Metro transit station, Calypso provides equitable access to public transit and supports alternative transportation modes with 295 private bike parking spaces, 27 public bike parking spaces, and electric vehicle charging stations to promote green infrastructure and sustainable mobility.

As per city code prohibiting natural gas infrastructure in new buildings, the non-commercial part of the development will be 100 percent electric.

“California is already very much the leader in sustainability and in being conscious of green building design, and the city of Santa Cruz has taken it a step further to address the climate impacts of residential energy use,” said Bristow.

The project brings a new range of housing types to Santa Cruz particularly suited to the needs of local college students, young adults and single professionals, creating a walkable community where people can live in close proximity to their workplace, to shops, restaurants, transportation and other city services. Infill development is the most sustainable approach to meeting housing needs and reducing urban sprawl while preserving the beauty of Santa Cruz, said Bristow.

“We’re excited to promote that walkable lifestyle,” says Bristow, “where you can just step outside your door and be where you need.”

Swenson is a leader in transit-oriented development and works to develop and construct sustainable buildings by focusing on increasing the efficiency of resource use in energy, water, and materials.