Fremont accuses developer of pulling bait and switch on senior housing project

FREMONT — More than five years after the Fremont City Council approved a major housing development it intended for people “55 years and older,” the city is locked in a costly legal battle against a developer it claims is skirting that age restriction to sell homes.

The developer, Colorado-based Century Communities, is currently selling homes in its Enclave project to anyone who wants them so long as at least one member of the household is 55 or older. Although that complies with state law for senior housing, the city contends those sales go against the spirit of the development agreement it struck with Century, court documents show.

But Century isn’t buying that, saying the city failed to clearly state in the agreement that only people 55 and older should live in the homes.

Century planned to build 232 homes in all and has so far completed and sold 54 and is finishing up the next phase of 68 more homes in the Warm Springs development.

The city’s court fight with Century kept buyers from closing in on their purchases of about a dozen of the 68 homes for several months. The city had withheld inspections and occupancy permits until ordered by the courts to resume issuing them.

Meanwhile, Century can’t start building 110 additional homes because it and the city are still fighting over age restrictions, according to court documents, the developer, and a city attorney.

FREMONT, CA – April 29: The housing development site of Century Communities is seen in Fremont, Calif., on April 29, 2021. (Dai Sugano/Bay Area News Group) 

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The city — sued by Century for a breach of contract in September 2020 over the withheld permits and inspections — has argued in court documents that its intention from the beginning was for all the homes in the project to be “exclusively for the city’s senior population” — people 55 and older — as noted in several staff reports and project studies.

The problem is, Fremont’s development agreement with Century doesn’t specifically spell that out.

Instead, the agreement states that the homes must “be occupied or held available for occupancy by households that include ‘elderly’ or ‘senior’ residents in accordance with applicable law.” For age restricted housing developments, state law says senior means someone 55 and older.

Nevertheless, the city claims Century is violating the intent of the agreement by selling the homes to households with residents of mixed ages. Century disagrees.

“If the city intended for the age restriction to require all members of the household to qualify as seniors, the documents should have reflected that desire,” Nick Arenson, the division president of Century Communities, said in an email to this news organization.

So far, the courts have sided with Century, which claimed it lost more than $1 million since Fremont stopped conducting inspections and issuing occupancy permits in September and $350,000 a month while escrows and permits were delayed.

Alameda County Superior Court Judge Richard Seabolt in February granted a preliminary injunction against the city, ordering it to resume issuing permits and doing inspections for Century’s homes.

In March, …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment

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