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Hundreds of market-rate apartments break ground in Fremont

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While the East Bay city builds homes at a breakneck pace, affordable housing remains rare

A rendering of a three-story housing development in Fremont. Courtesy Fore

Las Vegas-based developer Fore Property broke ground this week on a new apartment block in Fremont, promoting the project as part of the city’s mission to create a “mixed-use destination,” as Fremont pushes to keep up with housing demands.

The new project, located at 3510 Beacon Avenue, includes 275 apartments ranging from studios to two bedrooms, with Fore promoting the 11 top-floor units as penthouses with patios and “scenic views of the East Bay and foothills.” There will also be ground-floor retail space.

The East Bay Times reported on the approval of the project (then called 3515 Walnut Avenue) in January, noting that the development was able to skip through the planning commission and city council because it cleaves to the city’s general plan.

The Times also noted that the entirety of the project would consist of market-rate housing. In recent years, Fremont has seen an influx of new residential construction at market rates, but according to the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG), the East Bay city lags far behind in production of other types of housing.

Between 2015 and 2023, ABAG’s Regional Housing Needs Assessment estimates that the city will have to approve 5,455 homes, about 2.9 percent of the total homes ABAG says the Bay Area at large should produce during that period.

Another rendering of a three-story building in Fremont.

At the end of 2017, Fremont had already permitted 2,942 units, 54 percent of the eight-year expectation.

And according to the U.S. Census’s estimates released in September, the total number of housing units in Fremont shot up by more than 6,000 between 2017 and 2018.

(Note that the figures for both of those years have a margin of error of more than 2,000 homes, meaning that the actual number of homes added may turn out to be more modest. Either way, Fremont is building at an ambitious rate.)

But almost all of Fremont’s residential construction has been market-rate housing—per that same 2015-2017 RHNA estimate, the city produced only 17 percent of the “very low-income” housing it needs, and only 27 percent of low income housing.

The output for new homes priced for “moderate” Fremont earners during that period is zero. However, the city met 131 percent of its expectations for market-rate housing production.

“The majority of affordable developments in Fremont are currently not accepting applications for their wait list,” warns the city’s Affordable Housing site. A single building has opened up its waitlist, but has no vacant apartments right now.

Of course, the new Fore Project will nudge the city ever-closer to its total housing goals. But the city will have to start looking for more diverse sorts of housing at some point.