The start of construction for a gated apartment complex that will bring 71 units of affordable housing, as well as a host of services for residents, was celebrated with a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday at the project’s location in south Bakersfield.

The development will help address market demand, build up an empty lot surrounded by homes and also meet a community need by creating housing opportunities for agricultural workers, said Heidi Mather, director of development for Chelsea Investment Corp., the project’s developer.

The project received support from the city, as well as the Joe Serna Jr. Farmworker Housing Grant Program and a federal USDA program, Mather added.

“We have three operating properties in Bakersfield and so we know that there is a significant need here,” she said in a phone interview before the ceremony. “And we also know that the city is very welcoming and the city is great to work with in terms of going through the approval process.”

The city is supporting the $25.9 million development on nearly 4 acres with about $2.5 million. About $1 million will come from its HOME Investment Partnership funds and another $1.5 million from its Public Safety and Vital Services funding. The funding assistance guarantees that 22 of the units for those seeking affordable housing, according to a city report on the project.

As far as who’s eligible, the units will be restricted to agricultural worker families making 30 percent to 60 percent of the area’s median income. The tax credits supporting the development ensure that will be the case for the next 55 years, according to city documents regarding the plan.

A city official noted Chelsea’s track record, which counts 198 other units in Bakersfield including a senior housing development. Those made the company and its plan a great fit, said City Councilman Chris Parlier, who represents Ward 7

“Chelsea has a reputation for being a rock star in investing and managing these types of properties,” said Parlier. The project is being built within the area of his ward.

He was also appreciative that the property’s partners in development, Chelsea and Pacific Southwest Community Development Corp., in conjunction with the builder, Emmerson Construction, conducted community outreach ahead of the plan’s approval. That outreach led to the project going from three stories down to two stories, as well as the addition of security fencing and more foliage.

Pacific Southwest is the developer’s on-site partner and will provide services that include skill-building classes for adults, language instruction and after-school programs for students, among other offerings.

The address listed for the development is 7246 Stine Road. It is expected to be completed by June 2023, according to the developer.