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Biele Place beautified

Thirty-five years after construction of Biele Place Apartments, the building is looking fresh and stylish once again. CADA’s investment in reinforced walkways and a new color scheme have made this 35-unit residential complex safer and more welcoming.

Transformation story

The three-story building at 1421 15th Street at the corner of O Street holds a special place in CADA history. While CADA has renovated numerous residential structures since 1978, it did not function as a developer until it undertook construction of Biele Place (pronounced BEE-lee) from the ground up. With funding from the State Department of Housing and Community Development’s Rental Housing Construction Program, CADA oversaw construction of the project, which was completed in the spring of 1984.

Consisting entirely of one-bedroom apartments, Biele Place was designed especially for low-income and very low-income renters, with a focus on seniors and people with disabilities. CADA appointed the award-winning Peters, Clayberg and Caulfield architectural firm to design the project, which CADA has owned and managed through the decades since it opened. The state of California retains ownership of the underlying land.

Updating work on Biele Place began in 2017, when raised vegetable garden beds were installed in the enclosed courtyard.

“The planter beds are raised 3 feet above ground, enabling residents who use a wheelchair to tend to the garden,” explained Marc de la Vergne, CADA’s deputy executive director. “The building’s resident services manager, Mikel Nally, set up a community gardens program to coordinate use for interested residents. The raised gardens have proven to be very popular, and we have room to build more if interest increases.”

Nally organizes other group activities as well, including arts and crafts activities and movie nights, taking advantage of the new larger television set that CADA purchased and installed in the Biele Place community room. “We have grander plans in mind for the community room, as funding becomes available.”

In the autumn of 2018, CADA’s crew of journey-level construction crew members and assistants removed and rebuilt extensive sections of the building’s elevated walkways, and hired an outside contractor to pour new concrete decking over a reinforced wood framework, thereby improving safety. When that work was done, the entire complex was given a fresh coat of paint, replacing monochromatic beige with a vibrant color palette of blue, gold and brown elements with a unifying neutral tone.

“Biele Place stands out now in a very nice way,” de la Vergne said. “Residents are pleased, and we couldn’t be happier about that.”