Mission Heritage Plaza Wins Top Honors at Homes Within Reach Awards
by Vivian Johnson
City News Group
November 2, 2022
RIVERSIDE, Calif. - Mission Heritage Plaza, a unique new mixed-use development in downtown Riverside that combines affordable housing with resources for social justice and defense of Civil Rights, is this year’s top honoree at the Homes Within Reach Awards.
The project won Multi-Family Development of the Year – given to the most outstanding overall development – at the annual ceremony at the Southern California Association of Non-Profit Housing (SCANPH) conference, Southern California’s biggest regional housing conference.
Mission Heritage Plaza was developed by Wakeland in partnership with the Fair Housing Council of Riverside County and combines 72 affordable homes for low-income individuals, families, and formerly homeless veterans with offices for the Fair Housing Council and the new Civil Rights Institute of Inland Southern California, a 3,500-square-foot facility for the celebration and defense of civil rights.
“We are so honored to receive this award,” said Wakeland’s President and CEO Rebecca Louie. “Civil Rights and affordable housing are inextricably entwined, and this is represented in this amazing development. I know I wouldn’t be where I am today as a female, Alaskan Native CEO if it weren’t for the women and people of color who went before me. I’m so proud to be part of this project that commemorates those who sacrificed and fought to get us where we are today.”
“This has been a one-of-a-kind, incredibly ambitious development to be a part of,” said Wakeland’s Development Director Taylor Holland, who served as lead on Mission Heritage Plaza. “This project is so personal for so many of us involved, and especially for me, as a Black woman, it is great to see it recognized. We sincerely thank SCANPH, its Executive Director Alan Greenlee, and the rest of the committee for awarding Mission Heritage Plaza.”
Designed by Gonzalez Goodale Architects and built by Sun County Builders, Mission Heritage Plaza consists of two buildings: a five-story mixed-use building with housing, the Civil Rights Institute, offices, and space for community use connected by a central plaza to a three-story structure with homes that have a friendly, “front porch” design. The Civil Rights Institute offers cultural and social history exhibitions; an oral history recording media center and digital archive to preserve the history of diverse Inland communities and space for educational programs and performances.
The vision for this innovative project originated with the Fair Housing Council’s Executive Director Rose Mayes, a longtime advocate for Civil Rights in the Inland Empire.
“When I come up with ideas, I have to send them to individuals and ask them, ‘Do you think this is possible?’ Most of the time when they say no, I say yes,” said Mayes about her years-long effort to create Mission Heritage Plaza. “It’s not that I have so much magic in me. I just believe if you dream long enough, strong enough, and hard enough, it will happen.”
Wakeland assembled financing for the $47.2 million development from a unique mix of sources including state tax credits, a direct allocation from the state budget, the Veterans Housing, and Homelessness Prevention program, the Strategic Growth Coalition’s Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities program, and loans from the City of Riverside and Bank of America.
Mission Heritage Plaza was also built with longevity in mind. With an expected 55-year life span, it has the potential to provide affordable homes to thousands of people in Riverside over the years as residents achieve higher levels of economic mobility and move out, making room for other neighbors in need.
“Prevention is key to combating long-term chronic homelessness and with these 72 units we’ll be able to provide real housing solutions for those experiencing homelessness or living on the brink of it,” said Riverside Mayor Patricia Lock Dawson. “The way a community treats its most vulnerable is a direct reflection of our values as a City. And please know this: Riverside values all those who would call this City home. This new project is a brick-and-mortar testament to that.”