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Housing Authority settles with investors, buys Brizzolara Apartments 

The Housing Authority of San Luis Obispo (HASLO) recently settled its eminent domain case for the Brizzolara Apartments—a 30-unit affordable housing complex near downtown SLO—after its investor/owner agreed to sell the property to the local agency.

HASLO and SunAmerica, the apartments' prior owner, tussled over the apartments for more than two years, with HASLO filing for eminent domain in 2017 to force a sale amid concerns that SunAmerica intended to flip the units into market-rate housing.

The two parties settled on a confidential sale price weeks before the case's scheduled trial in November. With the ownership change, the apartments are guaranteed to serve seniors and adults with disabilities for decades to come, HASLO Executive Director Scott Smith said.

click to enlarge REMAINING AFFORDABLE Anne Ramirez, a tenant of the Brizzolara Apartments, shows New Times her apartment in 2018. The Housing Authority of SLO recent settled an eminent domain case that gives it full ownership of the property, enabling the complex to remain affordable for years to come. - FILE PHOTO BY JAYSON MELLOM
  • File Photo By Jayson Mellom
  • REMAINING AFFORDABLE Anne Ramirez, a tenant of the Brizzolara Apartments, shows New Times her apartment in 2018. The Housing Authority of SLO recent settled an eminent domain case that gives it full ownership of the property, enabling the complex to remain affordable for years to come.

"The property will remain permanently as affordable housing," Smith told New Times.

SunAmerica, an arm of insurance giant AIG, was the original investor in the Brizzolara Apartments when they were built in 1998. It received low-income housing tax credits in return and retained a 99 percent ownership interest in the property. HASLO managed the units.

In 2015, SunAmerica bought out the property's remaining loan debt, nearly doubled its interest rate, and put the long-term future affordability of the 30 units in doubt, according to HASLO. At that time, HASLO launched efforts to buy the site.

Good faith negotiations between the parties fell apart in 2017 when HASLO offered $1.9 million for the property and SunAmerica countered with a $3.2 million offer.

The final sales price negotiated out of court remains confidential, but Smith said that HASLO "is extremely pleased with the outcome."

"SunAmerica/AIG no longer has any ownership interest, involvement, or control of the property," Smith said. "It is a good day for San Luis Obispo and seniors/disabled needing affordable housing." Δ

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