Oak Creek Village Strikes a New Deal
Developers, tenants, and city pleased with agreement
There was an almost tangible sense of relief in City Hall on Thursday night when the tenants of Oak Creek Village took the podium at the City Council meeting, smiling. After weeks of sometimes tense negotiations, the Oak Creek Village Tenants Association (aided by Austin Interfaith) had struck a final deal with developers on Tuesday night. The Bouldin Creek Neighborhood Association held out just a little longer than that – but when the case came before Council on Thursday evening, everyone was back to praising the project as a new model of affordable housing for the city.
In the end, Council unanimously granted the zoning change that will allow developers to move forward with their unique proposal. Currently, the Oak Creek Village Apartments at 2324 Wilson Street are exclusively affordable – 173 units of the only HUD-backed housing in Bouldin Creek. With federal contracts expiring, the owners of the land, 2007 Travis Heights, LP, were looking to redevelop. In March, developers came to Council with a proposition: They would retain 173 affordable units on-site and, alongside that housing, build market-rate residences as well, for a total of 486 units. With a stunning 15% of Travis Heights Elementary students living at Oak Creek, a lot was at stake, and with real estate in the neighborhood at a premium, many eyes were on the project, hoping its success could manifest a rare win for everyone involved.
That may have actually happened. Tenants successfully negotiated a deal that includes not only relocation and return assurances for current residents, but also increased security patrols, school transportation, and new youth programming for the residents' children. And after persistent coyness, BCNA finally gave its official approval as well, negotiating a separate agreement with the developers. In March, Council had earmarked $2 million in contingent funding for the affordable units, which will be provided when federal money is approved.
In a press release, Tenants Association President Koreena Malone praised the final deal, summing it up by saying: "This proves that a new relationship between developers, residents, and the city built on respect, tolerance, and patience is possible."