About 20 residents of San Antonio on Monday berated an East Side development for not containing cheaper units and for accelerating gentrification.
And they criticized a non-profit city, whose commitment gives the project a lucrative tax break.
They were also upset that a key vote on the project was planned before councilor-elect Jalen McKee-Rodriguez, who will represent District 2 on the East Side, is sworn into office.
But the board of directors of the San Antonio Housing Trust Public Facility Corp. (PFC) on Monday gave the green light to plans that have been in development for years. Board members said the project could be halted if funding failed due to their rejection or delay.
Provident Realty Advisors plans to demolish most of the buildings in the Friedrich Complex, a hodgepodge of buildings on East Commerce, North Pine, North Olive and Gibbs streets that have been vacant since 1990.
The Dallas-based company would build 358 homes through a partnership with the PFC, which is overseen by five city council members. The PFC offers full property tax exemption under state law in exchange for developers building units for low-income renters.
Last week, the PFC board postponed a vote on the project after members argued over affordability and location.
District 9 councilor John Courage said projected rents would be out of reach for many local residents and the housing fund would not receive a transaction fee if the complex were sold.
A rendering of the planned apartments in the Friedrich complex on the East Side.
Courtesy Provident Realty Advisors
Outgoing Councilor Shirley Gonzales from District 5 declined to postpone the move because the site has been redeveloped for years, there is a housing shortage in San Antonio, and “people who do well themselves really have no choice but to close the neighborhood leave because they have no options “. for new apartments. “
Since last week, the developer has doubled the number of proposed apartments for residents with an income of up to 60 percent of the median income (AMI) from 12 to 24.
The remainder of the development would include 179 market-priced homes and 155 resident homes, accounting for up to 80 percent of the AMI, which many housing advocates find not really affordable.
Rents would range from $ 767 to $ 1,800 per month depending on the income level and apartment size of the tenants. The units would include studios and one- and two-bedrooms.
At the meeting on Monday, local residents said the development would hasten displacement in the area and include too few affordable units in exchange for a large tax break. This would cut revenue from the city, Bexar County, local school districts and other tax authorities, reducing the burden on homeowners – who struggle with soaring tax bills as their home values go up, they said.
Irasema Cavazos, a senior citizen living on a steady income on the East Side, said that neither she nor anyone she knows could afford rent on the Friedrich project.
“Affordability is only in name,” she said. “It’s not the reality.”
Another resident, TC Calvert, agreed. The East Side is being gentrified and residents are being displaced and the project “does not serve the working class and poor people” in the area, he said.
Voting on it before McKee-Rodriguez is in office is disrespectful and “try to shove this down the throat of people – it’s just un-American, it’s unchristian and you should be ashamed of yourself,” added Calvert, a longtime community activist.
McKee-Rodriguez, who has not yet taken office, did not comment on the development during the meeting.
In an interview, he said he had played phone calls with some council members who sit on the PFC board.
The planned Friedrich vote was deliberately rushed, he said.
The project does not meet the community’s need for affordable housing and “doesn’t even begin to bypass wealth inequality,” he said, adding that he had urged that at least 20 percent of the units be reserved for residents up to 60 years old Percent earn the AMI.
The vote was scheduled for Monday due to the recent elections, the July break for council members and the process of adding new members to the PFC’s board this summer, said Pete Alanis, the housing company’s executive director.
There are also development funding deadlines, which include $ 63.3 million in debt, $ 11.8 million in private equity, $ 1.7 million from a city tax hike reinvestment zone, and $ 1.1 million US dollars in parking garage refunds.
Without approval, Provident could not move forward and its partner, the American South Real Estate Fund, could pull out the equity, Alanis said. Development could stall.
Another reason for the hasty vote: the possibility that the city and the housing foundation will be in default with the Friedrich property if the conditions in a sales contract with the seller are not met.
As part of the Housing Fund’s acquisition of the property, they forced the seller to drop a $ 20 million lawsuit against the city, PFC attorney Jim Plummer said. As part of the settlement, they will have to pay the remainder of the sale price in August. If the development fails and they can’t pay for it, they would be in default and the seller could reclaim the property, he said.
Outgoing councilors Rebecca Viagran and Gonzales and Courage said they support the project in part because outgoing District 2 councilor Jada Andrews-Sullivan is in favor and timing forced her to make a decision on Monday.
The outgoing District 1 councilor Roberto Treviño was the only vote against the proposal. More should be discussed about the East Side benefits, affordability and neighborhood protection, he said.
“It’s a project that is going to happen. I think it’s a great project, ”he said. “I just have to agree that the cost of subsidizing these units is just too high.”
Last week, Courage partially backed the postponement of the vote because the trust would not receive a transaction fee if the complex were sold. That has now changed – the trust receives a fee.
Courage voted for the plans on Monday. Any project on the site will have an impact on property values and the city should find ways to address that, he said