In just two weeks time, construction has accelerated on the Santa Maria Studios project, with a five-story structure now standing that will soon be home to low-income seniors,
"I cannot believe that they are apartments," said local senior Grace Kyle. "They look like some little kid stacked a bunch of stuff out there!"
Chuen Ng, the director of community development in Santa Maria, says the construction process for the project has been much different than other ones in town.
"It utilizes a modular construction, so each of the housing units were quickly stacked upon each other," Ng told KSBY. "The units themselves were assembled offsite. They were actually manufactured in the state of Idaho."
According to the Idaho-based modular construction group, PreFab Logic, the estimated rates on more than half of the incoming 160 units will be offered at or under $1,000 a month, an income-based figure adjusted between 30-60% of Santa Maria's median income.
"We have had several phone calls from members of the community, from residents expressing interest in this senior housing project," Ng added.
Another local senior we spoke to said she has separate concerns about the apartment complex.
"Bringing home groceries and whatnot on single level is great. If I had to go up five stories, even if there is an elevator, I cannot imagine the number of trips up and down," said Lynn Dantzer. "I don't like that idea if it is really for seniors."
Others saying the estimated rate is still too high.
"For me to keep looking, it is not affordable for me because it goes out of my limit," said Kimberly Kuhl, who lives in Santa Maria.
"I hope it helps some of the homeless because I have my own home and I don't realize how bad it is for some people," added Grace Kyle.
Ng also adds that the development group that purchased the property submitted their affordable housing application under California's Senate Bill 35, which allowed them to bypass the City's typical requirements, such as review from the Planning Commission, approval from the City Council, and public comment.
Construction on the Santa Maria Studios, located at the corner of Miller Street and Santa Maria Way, is expected to continue well into next year, and Ng says that once the final touches are complete, people would have never guessed that modular construction was the method used to put it together.
The City of Santa Maria also says that despite the different approval processes granted with Senate Bill 35, the project must still meet other city requirements like ADA regulations and standard building codes.