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Buck Village Apartments

Novato, CA, 2010
A pending project of 128 affordable apartments located on the 25-acre Buck Campus Housing Site in Novato, California.

This project, located on the 25-acre Buck Campus Housing Site in Novato, California, will host 128 affordable one-, two- and three- bedroom apartments. The apartments are a joint effort between USA Properties Fund, Northbay Family Homes and the Buck Institute on Age Research headquartered in Novato.

By the late 1980s the Buck Institute recognized that its lab technicians, office staff and other lower-paid employees would have difficulty locating affordable housing in Marin County. Yet the Institute wanted to attract the best personnel it could find and make it easy for them to live near their workplace. The Buck Institute approached Northbay Family Homes to assist with finding a solution. 

The obvious answer: Include a housing element in the Institute's Master Plan so that affordable apartments could be constructed on the campus itself.

In 1995 Novato voters approved an initiative that annexed 488 acres to Novato city limits and pre-zoned that land for specific uses ‹ the housing element among them. However, language in the initiative is ambiguous as to whether the apartments might be rented to other low- income tenants if there is no Buck Institute employee available. Legal opinions on the language are divided; the City of Novato's present position is that the apartments may not be rented to non-Buck employees.

Because of size and location constraints, it has been determined that it is only financially feasible to construct all 128 apartments at one time. The Buck Institute wishes to build all the units but, as yet, does not have sufficient numbers of employees to fill them. Because the Institute is precluded by the above-referenced ambiguous language from renting the apartments to non-employees, the project stalled in 2004.

Northbay Family Homes is working with the Buck Institute and USA Properties Fund to ask voters to clarify their original 1995 directive so that more affordable housing may become available to North Marin County residents. It is estimated that a measure can be placed on the ballot sometime in 2005, and construction will begin one year after that approval is passed.

Our involvement in Buck Village Apartments to date has included the following service from our Seven Points of Entry in real estate development: