Award-Winning Affordability with Sustainable Design

By Carly Caumiant

Developed in February of 2013, Terraces at Santiago was built to deliver a total of three stories atop a concrete podium deck all at walking distance to urban transit, entertainment, and career options. The project respectfully showcases the rich architectural heritage of Santa Ana, California, all through a sustainable sense of community.

This affordable housing project allows units to be available to those earning 50 percent or less of the area median income. “The project is designed with families in mind with a large mix of two, three and even a five bedroom unit,” explained Todd Cottle, Principal, C&C Development. “There is a tot lot, community room, and all parking is covered and secured.”

Units were built to boast Santa Barbara/ California Contemporary and Spanish architectural designs. The design was collaborated upon by the City’s Planning and Housing staff, Orange County Housing Development Corporation (OHDC), C&C Development, Bassenian Lagoni Architects, and the property’s builder Advent Companies.

“The Owner, Architect, and Contractor all worked closely to construct the project,” explained Cottle. “To help streamline the construction process, C&C has a full time construction supervisor onsite to interact with the General Contractor’s onsite staff. This helps speed up the decision making process and enables C&C to make decisions at the jobsite.”

C&C invited their General Contractor to be a part of the design phase early on in order to work alongside the Architect to identify areas for cost savings and efficiency through better building practices. C&C brought Bassenian Lagoni Architects on board early as well to meet with the city so that they could work well alongside the developer to produce and design a building that exceeded Santa Ana’s vision for the project. Terraces at Santiago was later awarded with a 2013 Gold Nugget Award for Best Residential Project of the Year.
The building site is less than 1 acre; a small site that harbors its benefits even through limited land. Efficient site planning and creative construction had to be implemented in order to defeat the size restrictions.

“Efficient site planning was used to maximize the potential of the site,” explained Cottle. “Efficient site plan elements are the use of subterranean parking and a third story with townhome units rather than stack flat units.”

The units sit atop subterranean parking and are surrounded by gated pedestrian and auto access with onsite laundry facilities, shaded courtyards, and raised planter beds. Parking houses up to 81 cars and a leasing office sits on the property for residential convenience. The elevations of the project are most pleasant when considering its attention to affordability.

The project team not only made the most of the tight space, but they built for energy efficiency, designing them a LEED Gold certification. “The LEED Gold certification is a tangible representation of the project commitments and efforts at producing a sustainable and environmentally friendly project,” said Cottle. “The certification is a sustainability feature and initiative that can be replicated at other buildings on a broad basis.”

The project reduces energy usage by exceeding Title 24 by more than 15 percent, as well as by incorporating high efficacy lighting, energy star appliances, and through the use of a photovoltaic system that offsets electricity usage in common areas. “The project was built with a focus on reducing energy and water usage, controlling waste management, and reducing operating and maintenance expenses.”

Through the use of low flow fixtures and toilets and a high efficacy irrigation system, water usage is reduced and conserved for greener living. Storm water is also managed with onsite filtration. During construction, waste was controlled through the use of waste diversion and pre-cut framing packages.
“The reduced energy and water usage factors help to make the project a sustainable project and also help reduce long term maintenance and operating expenses,” explained Cottle.

The Terraces stand amongst the Santa Ana Station District and are located within walking distance of the Santa Ana Regional Transportation Center. It is the first project to utilize the city’s recently implemented Transit Zoning Code (TZC), which is working to rebuild and revitalize Santa Ana’s urban and industrial base.

“The vision of the district is centered around the Santa Ana Regional Transportation Center (SARTC), a major hub of public transit within Orange County,” said Cottle.

“C&C wanted to work with the city to create a project that could be used as an example for future developments in the TZC,” Cottle added. “C&C worked with the city to create a project that exceeded their vision for the quality and scope of a project.”

Residents are able to benefit from and easily access public transit, decreasing their dependency for cars or other more expensive modes of transportation. The SARTC provides easy access to OCTA bus lines, Greyhound buses, Amtrak Trains, and Metrolink Trains.

The Terraces at Santiago boast true to a Community Development project, benefiting not only its residents but the city’s economic health and expansion as well. The surrounding community of interwoven neighborhoods is supported by this project and its traditional, city-appropriate architectural character, style and scale.

“The low rents enable low income residents to live closer to where they work, thereby decreasing their usage of our congested freeway system and it enables them to live and work in the same community,” said Bering.

Many low income workers in Orange County are subject to long commutes when they are forced to work outside of the communities in which they reside. This not only builds a burden, but also contributes to the increase in greenhouse gas emission — an issue that C&C Development takes into constructive consideration.

Building upon the urban culture that has enveloped Santa Ana, Advent Companies and C&C Development have married sustainability with affordability making for a most sought after community that, for most, is comfortably close to work as well as entertainment.

Carly Caumiant is an assistant editor of Builder and Developer magazine. She may be contacted at

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