SAN LORENZO -- Within a couple of years, a vacant building that housed a post office could be replaced by apartments for low-income seniors.

Alameda County supervisors this week approved 77 apartments off Hesperian Boulevard north of Paseo Grande.

The project will receive $14.5 million in redevelopment money. It is one of the last funded by the county's redevelopment agency before Gov. Jerry Brown dissolved the agencies statewide in 2012.

The nonprofit agency building the apartments will apply to the state for low-income housing tax credits. If its application is approved, work could start in March, said Barbara Gualco of Mercy Housing.

The project will cost an estimated $26 million, she said.

The county planning commission OK'd the plan in May, but a resident appealed to the supervisors, who upheld the approval Tuesday.

Richard Hancocks contends the location is designated for businesses, allowing housing above the ground floor. Hancocks, who lives in unincorporated San Leandro, said he doesn't object to the affordable housing, just the loss of retail space.

"In the unincorporated area, very little land is dedicated to commercial activity," he said.

"Mercy has an excellent reputation," he said, noting its projects have included both commercial and residential.

"The loss of commercial space means we lose the opportunity to create jobs in the community," he said.

The four-floor apartment building at 15888 Hesperian Blvd. is within walking distance of a Lucky grocery store, the San Lorenzo Library, a restaurant, a post office and stores, the staff report said.

The apartment building will have 56 parking spaces, or less than one per unit. A consultant concluded the project would need 47 spaces, a county official said.

"With senior housing, not all people have vehicles," said Marita Hawryluk of the county community development agency.

The U-shaped building will have a large garden courtyard with fruit and flowering trees, she said. It will have two studio apartments, 72 one-bedroom ones and three two-bedroom apartments.

Mercy hopes to complete the apartments in summer 2016, Gualco said. The nonprofit agency will start taking housing applications in late 2015 or early 2016, with preference going to San Lorenzo residents and workers, she said.

Contact Rebecca Parr at 510-293-2473 or follow her at Twitter.com/rdparr1.