Affordable Housing in Tempe for Arizona Deaf Seniors Breaks Ground

Date: June 17, 2010
WSM Architects announces the groundbreaking for the Apache ASL Trails Community at 2428 East Apache Blvd. The 88,000 SF, four-story 75 unit apartment community will provide affordable housing designed for low-income seniors, fifty-five and older, who are deaf, deaf-blind, or hard of hearing. Construction will be complete in summer of 2011.

"WSM Architects is thrilled to be a part of such a wonderful project, not only for the Deaf Community, but for Arizona," states Paul Mickelberg, principal of WSM Architects, Tucson, AZ. WSM Architects and their engineering sub-consultants completed the architectural design in 2008 on a rigorous timeline, taking the project from City Planning and Zoning Entitlements through Building Permitting in only six months.

The project was then on a sixteen-month hold due to the nationwide economic down-turn. After a tireless effort by the Developer, Cardinal Capital Management Inc. of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and the Arizona Deaf Senior Citizens Coalition (ADSCC), the project has finally come to long-anticipated fruition. Funding was completed for the development, in part, by recent Federal stimulus money distributed by the Arizona Department of Housing. A&P Residential Southwest, LLC. is the General Contractor and Construction Manager.

The primary form of communication at this unique complex will be American Sign Language (ASL). The ASL culture will be featured in social events and programming. Social activities will take place in the community room which includes a public kitchen as well as adjacent outdoor community plaza.

The apartment community is sited on a 1.8 acre urban infill site with covered parking. The Apache Blvd. site is located on the Valley METRO Light Rail line, which will allow seniors transportation access to the greater Phoenix area.

Community amenities include an exercise room, community rooms, parlor, a beauty salon and conference room—all located at ground level. A later phase may also incorporate some ground level retail space, to create a vibrant, multi-use, mixed income urban campus. The building contains both one- and two-bedroom units for lease; units are accessed via elevator through air-conditioned interior hallways. Apartment amenities include dedicated patios / balconies, ADA compliant restrooms, and a full kitchen with dining room. Laundry facilities and storage units for resident use are also included on-site.

"Incorporating deaf technology into the building such as visual signalers, audio loop systems and video cameras, and line of sight design elements in the interior of the building was important throughout the design process," states Paul Mickelberg.

Other design features especially for the Deaf include: flashing light signalers for phone and doorbell, videophone equipped lobby and elevator, as well as TTY and videophone hookups in every apartment. The video intercom system will enable residents to communicate directly with friends and family using ASL, or via videophone relay system. Windows are designed to minimize glare, and high contrast interior finishes are provided in order to promote easy use of ASL. A loop amplification system, to enhance hearing aids, will also be provided.

In addition, Valley Center of the Deaf (VCD), a division of Catholic Community Services of Southern Arizona, Inc., will provide services for the residents. The VCD has been providing supportive services and advocacy for people who are deaf and hard of hearing since 1978. VCD will have ground floors offices within the apartment complex to provide support and services directly to the residents as well as to the greater deaf community.

Other partners in the project include the City of Tempe, JP Morgan Chase, Red Stone Equity Fund, Arizona State Compensation Fund, Arizona Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and Arizona Community Foundation.