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Transit-village housing in Oakland’s Fruitvale gets going, after years of delays

Affordable housing complex a happy milestone for the dozen or so elected officials in attendance.

With BART trains rattling past in the background, several hundred people gathered last week under a white tent to celebrate the groundbreaking of Casa Arabella, a 94-unit affordable-housing complex going up on a surface parking lot just south of the Fruitvale BART Station.

It was a happy milestone for the dozen or so elected officials in attendance. The project, developed by the Unity Council and the East Bay Asian Local Development Corp., will be affordable to households with incomes in the extremely low and very-low categories. Twenty units will be reserved for formerly homeless veterans. It will be followed by another 181 units, which Unity Council CEO Chris Iglesias hopes to start building in 2019.

But the ceremony also underscored the exasperating length of time that it takes to develop transit-oriented housing on BART-owned land. As several speakers pointed out, it had been 24 years since the community plan for the Fruitvale Transit Village was conceived, and nearly 14 years since the 47-unit first phase opened.

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