For "Active" Seniors Only

Affordable housing without transit? Council faces challenge.

Delia Garza has hesitations about the plan for new senior apartments on McKinney Falls Parkway. (Photo by John Anderson)

During City Council's Tuesday work session, Council Member Delia Garza indicated to her colleagues she couldn't support Item 59, a resolution recommending Lime­stone Ridge Senior Apartments and its application for low-income housing tax credits. The proposed complex, with more than 200 units to serve seniors 55 and over, is on McKinney Falls Parkway in Garza's southeastern District 2, and the council member was concerned about placing seniors out on the fringe without adequate transit access to the rest of the city.

Furthermore, Garza said, when this shortcoming was pointed out to the developer, AMTEX Multi-Housing LLC, it said that Limestone Ridge would house "active" seniors. "I'll be honest," Garza said. "I was disappointed in the response." She said she felt that Council was attempting to solve one city problem (the housing crisis) by exacerbating another (the mobility crisis).

While CM Ann Kitchen echoed Garza's concern, Mayor Steve Adler pointed out that the current market makes it difficult for developers to find land that qualifies for the necessary tax credits and also has access to things like transit. Staff has invited AMTEX to today's regular meeting (Oct. 18), so its representatives can try to quell concerns on the dais. Staff did caution that once Council approves the resolution recommending the application, it's a done deal. That means CMs will have to trust AMTEX on transit to follow up on any handshake promises.

Also on the Agenda ...

Council is also poised to take up items concerning Colony Park, improving compatibility between residential and live music uses, and the Camelback PUD in District 10 (see below). The latter obviously has the most opportunity to extend the meeting into late night, as PUD cases are prone to doing, but it appears neighborhood interests have agreed to shortened testimony. Still, there are thorny issues involving an elevator and a flood plain variance, so there's another handshake agreement that might not matter. There's also the Visit Austin budget, and with it the potential for a proxy war over a possible expansion of the Austin Convention Center ( "To Expand or Not to Expand," Oct. 12).

Financing Strategies

The city's Anti-Displacement Task Force, which Council convened earlier this year to wrangle best practices for addressing gentrification, needs public comment on the draft recommendations it released last week. The report addresses funding mechanisms (local and otherwise), affordable home ownership and support for renters, and cultural asset preservation.

All of that is going to come down to money. The report notes that Austin spends about $4 on housing per capita (excluding bonds), exceptionally less than comparable cities: Denver is shooting to spend $34 per capita; Philadelphia spends $37; and San Francisco pours in $536. The report reads, "If the City of Austin is serious about making meaningful strides on these issues it must allocate additional resources, and it must find additional sources of funding." Weigh in on the report on Tuesday, Oct. 23, at Widén Elementary (5605 Nuckols Cross­ing), beginning at 6pm.

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City Council, senior housing, affordable housing, tax credits, LIHTC, Limestone Ridge, Delia Garza, District 2, AMTEX Multi-Housing, Colony Park, Camelback PUD, Visit Austin, Austin Convention Center, Anti-Displacement Task Force, gentrification

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