Property: 159 Washington Blvd, Fremont, CA
The congregation of Sisters of the Holy Family is a community of Roman Catholic Sisters founded in San Francisco in 1872. Their mission is “To seek out and advocate for the poor and needy, especially families, for the kingdom of God.” The Sisters have been a part of the Fremont community since 1948, when they purchased the Palmdale property.
The Sisters’ Motherhouse, built in 1959, was originally designed as a home for women aged 20-35. It is no longer appropriate housing for the Sisters, whose median age is now 80 years. Additionally, the cost to maintain the extensively landscaped 14.8 acres and the two historic homes on their property has become increasingly cost prohibitive. Because of their love for this property, their commitment to the Earth Charter, and to the principles set forth by the U.S. Bishops in Renewing the Earth; as the Sisters contemplated new housing for themselves, they also became determined to find a way to preserve, as much as possible, the environmental and historic treasure of Palmdale.
From 2008 – 2012, the Sisters of the Holy Family worked with DCG to find a solution to preserve their property while also finding a solution for their need of more adequate housing than their current Motherhouse provides. As their plans began to coalesce over this four year period, it was clear that the Sisters would need to enlist the support of a trusted and respected development partner, one that was not only qualified to partner with DCG on obtaining the necessary approvals, but also shared the Sisters’ commitment to leaving a legacy with the property.
The Sisters were pleased to announce that together with DCG, they had developed a future Master Plan for their property, which not only solved their need for new age-appropriate housing, but also provided for preservation of a large portion of their park-like property, commonly known as Palmdale. The plan proposes to build three cottage-style buildings totaling 45 units, as new housing for the Sisters. These one-story buildings will be situated on a 2.6 acre parcel on the northwest area of the property. The cottages are currently under construction by Robson Homes (“Robson”) with completion scheduled for June of 2017.
The 5.5 acre “Core Area” of Palmdale, encompassing the significant landscaping, historic trees, shrines, and grottos, will become Private Open Space to be preserved in perpetuity through an endowment. The two historic homes on the property will be restored by Robson and sold as private residences. On the remaining 5.6 acres, Robson will build 77 single-family market rate detached homes (known as The Abbey at Palmdale Estates), targeted to young families – the sale of which will fund both the preservation of the Core Area and the construction of the Sisters’ age appropriate housing.
The new residences, surrounded by lushly planted streetscapes and gardens, will be thoughtfully designed with a focus on individual unit identity, and will be compatible with surrounding neighborhoods. The Sisters believe the plan designed by DCG and developed by Robson does all this, and the Sisters look forward to sharing this new phase in the life of Palmdale with the community of Fremont.
For an external overview of DCG’s current work with Sisters of the Holy Family, please see an article on The Catholic Voice website at: Catholic Voice Oakland.