City Council approves loans and land purchases to bring hundreds of affordable housing units to Austin

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A project loan approved on August 26 supports a Communities Foundation plan to transform the Parker Lane property of Parker United Methodist Church into a 135-unit affordable housing project. (Ben Thompson / Community Impact Journal)

Austin City Council voted on Aug. 26 to move forward with funding for several affordable housing projects, including townhouses, a homeless facility, and land acquisitions for de future developments. The points were approved at a regular meeting of the board of directors of Austin Housing Finance Corp., which includes board members. Five council-backed housing project loans are to be facilitated by a combination of city assistance programs and state and federal dollars. In total, three properties in East and Southeast Austin were also purchased to eventually develop into housing projects. The loan items arise from the City’s Rental Housing Development Assistance and Homeowner Housing Development Assistance initiatives and are the final application approvals for these programs for the 2020-2021 fiscal year.

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Parker apartments and terrace with balconies

Foundation Communities’ Parker Apartments, located on Parker Lane north of Oltorf Street, would include 135 apartments at 30%, 50% and 60% median family income levels, or MFIs. The city will provide up to $ 4.1 million in development loans. Foundation Communities executive director Walter Moreau said the project would progress with support from Parker United Methodist Church. Parker Apartments are expected to include child care and food sharing centers alongside immigration and health care offices to connect the complex to the surrounding area.

“In all of our communities, when we build, we are really part of the neighborhood and the neighborhood association. Our learning centers and services are free and open to the neighborhood. It won’t be for a few years, but we have really looking forward to having the immigration office there and our health programs, our learning center and our fitness classes and being a real community asset, ”said Moreau.

Foundation Communities also plans to convert the 120-room TownePlace Suites hotel near MoPac in northwest Austin into a permanent supportive housing facility called Balcones Terrace. Moreau said the nonprofit has been working “for a long time” to expand its supportive housing programs for the homeless. Balcones will open efficiency units at 30%, 40% and 50% of MFI limits at the hotel. The city will provide up to $ 16.13 million in development loans. In recent months, the city has expanded its strategy of converting hotels and motels to provide shelter and bridge accommodation for homeless people.

Mayor Steve Adler hailed the Foundation Communities project proposal as a “unique” and “really interesting” response to ongoing local efforts to tackle homelessness during the AHFC session.

“I want to make sure that as we move forward, other operators are looking to follow this direction and this example of Foundation Communities,” Adler said.

Jamey May, acting head of housing and community development in the Austin Department of Housing and Planning, also said the loan agreement with Foundation Communities represents the first to integrate the management of such a site by a third.

“We’re trying to do a sort of multi-step dance here so that we can make sure that the property is acquired in a timely manner and then that it can be operated at low cost to the operator,” said May. “It’s exciting to see this property online because it is so needed. Not only does it serve an extremely hard-to-use population, but it partners with one of our strongest partners in the affordable housing community.

June West and Season North

June West from developer Saigebrook Development, an 80-unit apartment complex on West Koenig Lane, is designed with units at 30%, 50%, 60% and 80% of MFI ceilings with a loan of up to 1 , $ 4 million from the city.

Season North from partner developer O-SDA Industries, a planned 116-unit apartment complex off the North Capital of Texas Highway, will include units available at 30%, 50% and 60% MFI, as well as income limits at market rate. The city will provide up to $ 3.2 million in development loans.

May said a component of the Saigebrook and O-SDA projects supported by city staff were their locations west of I-35, where affordable housing has historically been less present.

“This is a huge step forward in dispersing our affordable housing. One of the things we are trying to promote is that housing should be affordable and accessible throughout the city. The amount of your salary should not determine. where you need to live, ”May said. noted.

O-SDA President Megan Lasch said the locations of the two projects were also the “most exciting” factors in the development. In addition to expanding the affordable housing inventory, she said she hoped the projects could serve as an example of successful high-density infill redevelopment that also dampens traffic in their areas.

“I think we are starting to take steps in the right direction and get affordable housing in other parts of the city that could have a significant impact on residents in their lives and day-to-day functioning because they are able to live closer to where they work, ”said Lasch.

SoMa Industry

In addition to these rental elements, the individual ownership project on the AHFC’s agenda will bring 23 available 80% MFI townhouses to South Central Austin, close to Menchaca Road. The city will provide a loan of up to $ 1.84 million for developer Industry Affordable’s project on Keilbar Lane. The project represents Industry Affordable’s first foray into affordable housing.

Members of the development team said their pivot occurred during COVID-19 given their desire to provide lower-cost housing options in Austin and was spurred in part by the city’s available support and the adoption of the latest Project Connect transit expansion package. publication date.

“We are all ready. We are focused on this vision and are very excited about it,” said Michael Winningham of Industry Affordable. “It was so worth it to get to this point to bring a 100% affordable housing project to Austin and provide that missing link in Austin where it’s really needed.”

May also highlighted the entry of a new company into the city’s affordable housing program, a goal staff continue to pursue as part of the city’s affordable housing campaign.

“They are teaming up with experienced developers and experienced engineers that we have worked with in the past, but we are always excited to see more players coming to the table,” he said. “It’s a victory. So we really hope that it can be built quickly and that the houses will then be sold because we know we need them.”

Land purchases

In addition to the above projects, council members also voted to purchase three properties located adjacent to Manor Road and South Pleasant Valley Road for up to $ 2.85 million. Two properties off Pleasant Valley totaling 5.3 acres, 5900 S. Pleasant Valley Road and 5901 Drowsy Willow Trail, were acquired together for up to $ 2.05 million. To the north, the 2.59 acre property at 3511 Manor Road was acquired for up to $ 800,000. During the AHFC meeting, District 4 Council Member Greg Casar took the time to highlight land purchases as things that could lead to neighborhood-focused redevelopment projects in the city. ‘to come up. The processes could flow along the same lines as those recently advocated by him and District 7 council member Leslie Pool, Casar said.

“It’s a really solid program,” Casar said. “We’re going to be able to house hundreds of low-income people and many homeless people, as well as purchase land that will be future developments in St. John or future developments on Ryan Drive, which take so long. long time. But now that we have this solid land acquisition strategy, I think we can do a lot more on a large scale in all parts of the city. “

A timeline for the redevelopment of the three properties has yet to be determined by the city and could take several years. May said each site will go through its own RFP process based on the wishes of surrounding communities gathered through “extended” outreach before the RFP opens and future negotiations begin.


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