Robotics Nonprofit Finds New Home at Lohse Apartments

Residents of The Lohse Apartments in Roseville, California will soon welcome a new group of downstairs neighbors – some of whom happen to be remote controlled or battery operated.

Local nonprofit Placer Advanced Robotics and Technology (PART) will soon unveil a new Robotics Center in the spacious ground floor commercial space of this Mercy Housing family community. A small but quickly expanding organization, PART was founded by a group of students and parents who wanted to revive their community’s robotics programming after their school-based program was defunded. Young residents at Lohse, as well as other school-aged youth in the area, will get the chance to enjoy STEM-focused (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) afterschool programs, summer camps, and competitions at the new clubhouse.

A PART of Lohse Apartments

“We were searching for a commercial tenant who could provide something valuable both to residents of the building and to the surrounding neighborhood,” said Julia Katz, MHC’s lead commercial developer. “When PART expressed interest, we definitely wanted to find a way to make it work.”

In addition to owning and managing 159 affordable rental communities throughout California, Mercy Housing also leases 446,421 square feet of commercial and retail space on the ground floors of these communities. Current commercial tenants include restaurants, music schools, and veterinary clinics, as well as many women- and BIPOC-owned enterprises.

Commercial spaces sometimes require custom build outs, such as cooking equipment or special lighting. Generally, commercial tenants pay for the improvements they want made upfront, and then Mercy Housing reimburses those expenses after their business is operational. In the case of PART, however, the MHC team decided to cover the cost of tenant improvements to the clubhouse space in advance, instead of as a reimbursement.

“This organization was the perfect fit for The Lohse Apartments, a family building in an active city center, but they didn’t have the upfront capital to build their space out and wait to be reimbursed,” said Julia. “We want to rent our commercial spaces to mission-aligned businesses and nonprofits, and sometimes that means thinking creatively and having some flexibility with our process.”

“Placer Robotics is thrilled to partner with Mercy Housing to develop our new robotics center at the Lohse Apartments, and we look forward to offering engaging and sustainable student-led after-school robotics programs designed to inspire residents to explore STEM opportunities,” said Kevin Miller, Executive Director of PART. “By situating ourselves on the ground floor of an affordable housing community, we see a unique opportunity to overcome access and affordability obstacles that are significant barriers to hands-on, after-school STEM education. With a shared commitment to building engaged and inclusive communities, Mercy Housing is the perfect partner for us. Together, we are poised to launch the first-of-its-kind robotics center, and we’re hopeful that this is just the beginning of our collaborative efforts.”

Mercy Housing worked with our partners at the City of Roseville to secure additional grant funding for PART, which began providing classes and events out of the new Clubhouse space this fall and will celebrate a grand opening in January. The MHC Resident Services team plans to partner with PART to get Lohse residents involved as both class participants and volunteers.

By renting commercial spaces in our affordable housing buildings to community-serving business tenants, Mercy Housing has the opportunity to help create healthy neighborhoods rich with amenities affordable housing residents can afford to enjoy.

“The Robotics Clubhouse is the perfect example of a commercial tenant that aligns with Mercy Housing’s mission,” said Julia. “We can’t wait until the first cohort of Lohse Apartments residents are building great STEM skills right downstairs from their apartments while making friends with their neighbors and schoolmates at the same time.”

Do you know a community-serving business or nonprofit owner who might want to rent a commercial space in a Mercy Housing building? Have them check out the openings listed on our commercial website.