The Altenheim, meaning “home for the elderly” in German, was built in 1893 by a group of German settlers to house the aging members of their community. After closing its doors in 2002 due to rising operational costs, the Altenheim Association – which managed the property – partnered with Citizens Housing Corporation to develop the historic site into affordable housing for low-income seniors.
Located in the Fruitvale/Dimond district of Oakland, Citizens Housing renovated the existing historic buildings and built new apartments in order to provide much-needed affordable housing in the area. The first phase of the project was completed in Jan. 2007.
The small dormitory-type rooms of the original building were replaced with more spacious studios and one-bedroom apartments with private kitchens and bathrooms. Citizens Housing also preserved the popular grandfather clock brought to the property from Germany in 1911; it continues to stand tall and keep perfect time in The Altenheim’s main lobby.
The large common areas in the facility were restored to create more than 10,000-square-feet of lounge, sitting area, and community gathering spaces and meeting spaces for supportive programs and services. In addition, the Altenheim Association has continued to partner with the German School of the East Bay to operate a Saturday language school on-site. A public archive center was constructed in the property’s main building to showcase the rich history of the site and its facilities.
“The Altenheim is a big part of the history of German migrants in the Bay Area,” Citizens Housing Corporation President James Buckley said. “We did our best to incorporate that history in the restoration of this property.”
Construction work included seismic renovations and a complete facility upgrade to the historic 1909 and 1915 buildings on the site. The structures were restored following the federal government’s strict guidelines for the rehabilitation of historic places, with close consultation with the team’s preservation consultant.
The Altenheim is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and the project has been chosen to receive the 2007 Partners in Preservation Award from the Oakland Heritage Alliance.
Phase I of the Altenheim Senior Apartments project was completed at a cost of approximately $25.2 million. The apartments accommodate seniors whose household incomes range between 25-50 percent of the area median income (AMI). Current rents range between $343 and $706 for a studio apartment and between $366 and $754 for a one-bedroom.
Phase II began this past spring, which will add another 81 units to The Altenheim once it is complete (time yet to be determined).
The Altenheim Senior Apartments: At a Glance
Opened: Nov. 2006 (officially completed Jan. 2007)
Developer: Citizens Housing Corporation
Units (Phase I): 93
Studio apartments: 52
One-bedroom apartments: 41
Oakland Redevelopment Agency: $4,084,660
City of Oakland HOME funds: $1,901,740
LIHTC & Historic Tax Credit Equity: $18,525,531
Total Cost: $25,162,931