Austin FC's New Charitable Arm Backs Affordable Housing Project

Meanwhile, Senate Bill 1771 seeks to jeopardize the Major League Soccer team

Austin FC's New Charitable Arm Backs Affordable Housing Project

Foundation Communities held a symbolic "groundbreaking" on a forthcoming affordable housing development in Northwest Austin on Wednesday morning, with financial backing from 4ATX, the newly announced charitable arm of the Austin FC Major League Soccer franchise. Waterloo Terrace is projected to open in the fall of 2020 on a 2.5-acre tract of land near MoPac and Parmer Lane, about three miles from the planned Austin FC stadium on McKalla Place; it will include 132 studio apartments, 27 of which will be reserved for low-income veterans and neighbors transitioning from homelessness.

The $27 million development is coming together with funding from a variety of public and private sources, and it will be the first project the city invests in with money secured from the $250 million Proposition A affordable housing bond voters approved in November. Rents at Waterloo Terrace will range from $450-752, with utilities included; like other Foundation Communities properties, residents will have access to on-site social services such as individualized financial counseling, educational programs, and health and nutrition classes – all at no additional cost. At a ceremony held at another Foundation development, Bluebonnet Studios (the event was moved from the future site of the Waterloo project due to inclement weather), Mayor Steve Adler referenced the Prop A housing bond and said FC's blend of wraparound services and subsidized rents would be a model for the city going forward, as it aims to help vulnerable populations.

The project is coming to fruition thanks in part to a $500,000 contribution made by 4ATX. Per the agreement reached between the city and Precourt Sports Ventures, which operates Austin FC, PSV is required to invest a total of $4.8 million into Foundation Communities projects over the next 25 years. The Waterloo Terrace donation is the first such contribution, and represents about 12% of the total project cost. PSV CEO Anthony Precourt was on hand at the ceremony and said that the 4ATX contribution would be the first step in its quest to build an "engaged philanthropic platform" that works throughout the city to promote "cultural vibrancy and health" programs. Last week, Precourt announced that he would seed 4ATX with a $1 million grant to launch the charity; in the coming weeks, a board of directors and staff will be announced.

Meanwhile, PSV continues to fight back against efforts to undo its deal with the city, not only at the ballot box in a possible future referendum but also at the Texas Legislature. Senate Bill 1771 by Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, would effectively unwind the tax abatements central to the McKalla Place project; the bill received a hearing in the Senate Property Tax Committee, which Bettencourt chairs, last week. Like the petition campaign to put the Austin FC deal up to a citywide vote, the effort is being championed by allies of Circuit of the Americas and its CEO, Bobby Epstein, who have their own soccer team (Austin Bold FC, competing in the United Soccer League) and stadium at COTA's Del Valle sports complex. PSV President Dave Greeley told senators that SB 1771 "would jeopardize the viability of Austin FC."

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