Atchison Village, Richmond, California
Atchison Village Defense Housing Project, Cal. 4171-x
|Location||Roughly bounded by MacDonald Ave, Ohio St, First St, and Garrard Blvd, Richmond, California|
|Area||30.2 acres (12.2 ha)|
|Architect||John Carl Warnecke; Andrew T. Hass|
|Architectural style||Mid-twentieth century|
|NRHP Reference #||03000473|
|Added to NRHP||May 30, 2003|
Atchison Village is a community in Richmond, California which was originally built as housing for defense workers from the Kaiser Shipyards. It lies at an elevation of 13 feet (4 m). Constructed by the Richmond Housing Authority in 1941 as Richmond's first public defense housing project, it is the only project funded by the Lanham Community Facilities Act that still exists in Richmond and one of the few in the nation not destroyed after the war. It is one of 20 public housing projects built in Richmond before and during World War II. The village was sold by the government to its residents for $1.5 million in 1956, remaining a mutual housing cooperative to this day under the name of the Atchison Village Mutual Homes Corporation.
Currently, the village is valued at approximately $17 million as of January 2007. It is covered under Proposition 13 as a single unsold parcel, thus limiting tax increases to 2% plus individual memberships sold.
Atchison Village includes 450 apartments of five styles in 97 one-story buildings and 65 two-story buildings. Every unit has ground level access both front and back and fenceable backyards. Each unit has a dedicated parking space and there is ample on-street parking near each unit on the public streets. There is free wireless at 2.5 Mbyte/s from a Meraki system of 10 nodes.
As of May 2012, units cost from $30,000 to $70,000. They are relatively unaffected by the housing bubble or foreclosures, since share certificates cannot be liened, and the low prices may be due to the fact that title to the property is not transferred, but only the real property interest in it, making it difficult to take out a loan to buy a Right to Perpetual Use. However, the Atchison Village Credit Union may lend a significant sum against the purchase if the buyer has a co-signer with real property in California.
A maintenance fee, currently averaging ~$300 monthly, covers taxes, insurance, reserve funding, structural maintenance, water and sorted waste collection from curbside individual rolling plastic containers.
The grounds are landscaped, including a large park and separate soccer and baseball fields with bleachers. There is also a small children's playground, completely upgraded with modern Big Toys and soft ground. All streets have sidewalks and street lighting and are patrolled by the Richmond Police Department. There is a large laundromat and small supermarket adjacent, at First Avenue and MacDonald.
Point Richmond is within walking distance and has two small supermarkets, a post office, bank, public warm pool, fire station and library. The entire neighborhood is on the National Register of Historic Places and is part of the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park.
The Atchison Village housing project is an example of the local-federal collaboration that provided much-needed housing and domestic support for World War II defense workers and their families. The modest, wood-frame buildings clearly reflect the constraints of time, money and materials placed on publicly funded housing construction during the period, but though simple in design, they have full-dimension clear fir framing and heavy interior plaster. Water mains, electric panels and all roofs have been recently upgraded at a cost of more than three million dollars. Reserves for such replacements are replenished through a dedicated portion of the monthly assessments, to avoid the sometimes catastrophic assessments other condominium associations may levy when they ignore the need for maintenance of large structural elements. Currently under way is a complete rebuild of the sewer system.
Just prior to and during the war, the Lanham Community Facilities Act of 1940 provided $150 million to the Federal Works Administration. It built approximately 625,000 units of housing in conjunction with local authorities nationwide. These were highly sought after and company managers were the most likely to be able to procure housing in Atchison Village.
Because many of the original residents stayed on, there are many vacancies due to normal attrition from aging. It's a great chance to "age in place." Handicap ramps are allowed, and a majority of units are single story. The auditorium and public restroom is handicap accessible.
The population of Atchison Village while somewhat diverse over the past couple of decades is increasingly changing through gentrification, with a decreasing Latino, Asian and African American and GLBT population. White and notably middle-age to elderly White members now make up an estimated 65-70% of Atchison Village membership.
Atchison Village is located in the Iron Triangle. Although this area was once known as the highest crime area of Richmond, within Atchison Village the crime rate is actually very low. The surrounding area is seeing less crime, as well. This is partly due to traffic control gates that separate it from the greater Iron Triangle community, with only one vehicle entrance/exit. In addition, there is a very active citizenry, some of whom have lived in the village for over fifty years and an excellent Crime Watch and citizen patrol in the evenings.
The Richmond police chief, Chris Magnus, has been very helpful in increasing police reaction speed to reports of suspicious activity and patrol officers are frequent drop-ins to Atchison Village meetings.
The Mayor Gayle McLaughlin endorsed the idea of a "beat cop" to be assigned to the Village at a subsequent resident meeting about violence in the neighborhood. The Village itself has acted to control unlawful behavior, since it does have the power to expel residents by cancelling their membership for gross violations of their share contract with AVMHC.
Recent placement of powerful security cameras at the outside of the village and installation of a gunshot locating systems in Richmond's high-crime areas has increased policing effectiveness and lowered crime. Prospects are good for continued low crime, since the current wave of home desertions is not affecting Atchison Village, which promptly repairs and auctions empty units. Vacancy rates now are almost always at zero. It should be pointed out, also, that due to the recent gentrification to a largely middle-aged to elderly white population, the prices of homes have increased sharply over the past decade reaching upwards of $200K+ whereas many members as recently as 10 years ago were buying in at under $100K.
Atchison Village is governed by an eleven-member board of directors, elected at large from the membership. Currently, it is financially stable and is steadily building structural reserves. Member disputes are largely handled by private hearings and mediation. Members may, however, be expelled for gross infractions of rules included in the contract. This happens very rarely, however, averaging less than one incident in three years for 450 memberships.
Since it is a Mutual Homes Association, there have been legal challenges to its inclusion under the Davis-Stirling Act (certain sections of the California Civil Code which cover Common Interest Developments). The Corporation lawyer advises that the Corporation include it under the Act, although in a court case, DeForrest v. Atchison Village, the Superior Court judge ruled that technically, the Village is not included therein. However, most corporate decisions made by the Board do include consideration of current D-S regulations.
Atchison Village is served by the AC Transit 72M bus line, which runs east from Atchison Village up Macdonald Avenue to San Pablo Avenue and then south along San Pablo Avenue to downtown Oakland. A recent addition is the Circular Shuttle, a free service of the City of Richmond, which runs on MacDonald Avenue, and as far north as Doctor's Hospital.
There are connections in Point Richmond for buses to Marin and points north and south as well as the 72M stops at the combined Richmond BART and train station to Davis, Sacramento and beyond. Freeway access E+W Interstate 580 is excellent down one mile of parkway.
The Chevron Richmond Refinery is about one mile west across Gerrard Boulevard, the BNSF railway Intermodal switching and loading yard and the Richmond Parkway. An accident at the refinery on January 15, 2007, revealed defects in the community notification system, and several members of the community were affected by fumes. Richmond City Councilman Tom Butt has made sure that this will not happen again.
Currently there is much community environmental activism concerning a plan by Chevron to add facilities to process heavier grades of crude oil with more sulfur content (sour crude).
- National Park Service (2009-03-13). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
- Richmond residents not alerted about Chevron Refinery Fire on Monday 1-15 : Indybay
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Atchison Village, Richmond, California.|
- Atchison Village Mutual Homes Corporation
- Wikimapia aerial view
- Atchison Village at the American Home Owners Resource Center website
- Wartime Housing
- Atchison Village Credit Union
- Atchison Village at the Online Archives of California
- Berkeley Daily Planet regarding Atchison Village
- Regional Oral History Office / Rosie the Riveter / WWII American Homefront Project Collection contains interviews that describe the history of Atchison Village.
-  Website for Atchison Village