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National Model for TOD Development Continues Legacy with Third Stage of Redevelopment

Oakland, CA, August 26, 2021 – This morning, SVA Architects and The Unity Council joined BRIDGE Housing to celebrate the Groundbreaking of Casa Sueños, the third stage of the award-willing Fruitvale Transit Village in Oakland, CA.  Located at 3511 East 12th Street in Oakland, CA, the Groundbreaking ceremony brought together state-wide and regional elected officials, project partners, stakeholders, and service providers.  A transit-oriented development (TOD), Casa Sueños is less than a five-minute walk from the Fruitvale BART station.  As a continuation of the original Fruitvale Transit Village redevelopment, the project demonstrates how community-based development can serve and honor societal needs. 

Chris Iglesias, Chief Executive Officer of The Unity Council, states, “Originally conceived as market-rate housing, Casa Sueños was wisely transformed to essential worker housing, critical to regional housing health. Our development feels that we are awakening the land and returning it to how it was supposed to be used: from the people to the people.”

Casa Sueños Groundbreaking Speakers

The Casa Sueños Groundbreaking will include speakers:

  • Secretary Lourdes M. Castro Ramírez, Business, Consumer Services, and Housing Agency, State of California
  • Michelle Starratt, Housing Director, Alameda County Housing & Community Development Department
  • Mayor Libby Schaaf, City of Oakland
  • Councilmember Noel Gallo, City of Oakland, District 5
  • Patricia Wells, Executive Director, Oakland Housing Authority
  • Smitha Seshadri, Executive Vice & President, BRIDGE Housing
  • Chris Iglesias, Chief Executive Officer, The Unity Council
  • Colleen Chawla, Director, Alameda County Health Care Services Agency
  • Jessica Buendia, Acting Executive Director, Strategic Growth Council
  • Cécile Chalifour, Managing Director, Community Development Banking, JPMorgan Chase & Co.
  • George Galvis, Executive Director, CURYJ (Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice)

About Casa Sueños: Fruitvale Transit Village Phase IIB

Fruitvale Transit Village Phase IIB, Casa Sueños, is the third stage of the award-winning mixed-use, mixed-income, transit-oriented development of the Fruitvale Transit Village. Casa Sueños will provide 181 affordable homes, designed to serve essential workers.  Homes range from studios to 3-bedroom apartments, for households earning 20 – 80 percent of area median income (AMI). Additionally, 46 of the units will be set aside for the region’s chronically homeless, with permanent supportive services provided by Alameda County Health Care Services Agency.  The project will also include 7,500 square feet of affordable commercial retail space for a local nonprofit organization, and will be only steps away from the Fruitvale BART station and the planned Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line.

“In this third phase of transformative transit-oriented development that began with the Fruitvale Village, we’re excited to bring 181 affordable homes for families to the heart of the neighborhood, including 46 apartments reserved for people who have experienced homelessness,” said Smitha Seshadri, Executive Vice President of BRIDGE Housing. “With SVA Architects’ thoughtful design, Casa Sueños will be a welcoming, beautiful place for future residents to call home.”

About the Fruitvale Transit Village

Completed in 2004, the Fruitvale Transit Village is widely recognized as one of the nation’s first transit-oriented developments and a national model for development without gentrification.  Replacing a surface parking lot, Phase I of the Fruitvale Transit Village was a catalyst in the development of multiple community services around a mass transit hub. The Fruitvale Transit Village includes more than 115,000 square feet of space for community services, as well as 40,000 square feet of space for retail, including multiple restaurants, financial services, and health services. It also houses a commuter bicycle parking center, as well as a large public gathering area called the Pedestrian Plaza. The mixed-use buildings also include 47 units of mixed-income rental housing.  The site is located less than 100 feet away from one of the busiest BART stations in the region and a station for eleven bus lines.  The second stage of development, Phase IIA or Casa Arabella, was completed in 2019 and added 94 units of affordable housing to the community.

Ernesto M. Vasquez, FAIA, CEO of SVA Architects, says, “We’re excited to continue our work on the Fruitvale Transit Village that we began nearly 20 years ago with The Unity Council.  Working with BRIDGE Housing and this exceptional development team, it’s been rewarding to see how the Fruitvale Transit Village’s new retail, community services, and affordable housing has helped support the residents, and enrich the community.  Casa Sueños will also honor the Fruitvale neighborhood’s diverse culture, sustain a community service provider, and address Oakland’s essential worker housing needs.”    

About The Unity Council

The Unity Council is a non-profit Social Equity Development Corporation with a 55-year history in the Fruitvale neighborhood of Oakland. Our mission is to promote social equity and improve quality of life by building vibrant communities where everyone can work, learn, and thrive. Learn more at

About SVA Architects, Inc.

Founded in 2003, SVA Architects has become one of the Country’s most innovative and respected design and planning organizations. The award-winning firm specializes in urban planning, architecture, and interior design of public, private, and mixed-use projects.  SVA Architects values institutional and public environments as the foundation of a community and the backdrop against which we live, learn, work, worship, and play.  The company is headquartered in Santa Ana with offices in Oakland, San Diego, and Honolulu.  For more information, visit



Beth Binger, BCI, Mobile: (619) 987-6658, Email:

The Unity Council, Itzel Diaz,, 510.302.7646