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Tax credit loss could mean

Friday, July 27, 2001 by

No affordable apartments

Southeast area neighbors agreed to developers' plans

Lee Sloan, president of the Kensington Park Homeowners Association, told the City Council last week, “I would ask you to stop and look around at what we have here. This is probably truly a Kodak moment that none of us may see again in our lifetime.”

Sloan explained what the Council already knew—that the concurrence of all the neighborhood associations in SCAN (Southeast Corner Association of Neighborhoods) not just to have another apartment complex in the area, but to have a complex that would include “affordable housing,” was a rare event.

Developers Nathan Sloan (unrelated to Lee) and Joe Pospisil plan to build the 160-unit Woodway Village on two tracts previously zoned for single-family housing. Attorney Michael Casias told the City Council that in addition to the restrictions recommended by the Planning Commission, his clients had agreed to a setback of 200 feet from the creek on the property, and to consider that zone as “undevelopable greenbelt.” Any housing later developed along the greenbelt would be on quarter-acre lots, he said.

A zoning change to allow apartments on the property, located at 4500 Nuckols Crossing Road, was approved 5-0 last week, with Mayor Pro Tem Jackie Goodman off the dais and Mayor Kirk Watson absent. The city’s Neighborhood Housing and Community Development Office said the project would be eligible for waiver of fees, such as site plan and building review fees, on 30 percent of the units, since that percentage would be reserved for low- income families.

Whether the developer will actually build the units for low-income residents, however, seemed less certain yesterday. The developers were hoping to win nearly $808,000 in Low Income Housing Tax Credits from the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA). However, when TDHCA released its list of recommendations for awarding more than $27 million in tax credits, Woodway Village was not among the 64 recommended projects.

TDHCA has divided the state into eleven regions. Austin is part of Region 7, which produced 21 applications. Only two of those were from Austin, with the rest being from the smaller cities in Central Texas. The staff recommended a tax credit of $236,453 for Springdale Estates at 1046 Springdale Road. Thate project scored 80 points, while Woodway Village scored 81. Other Region 7 projects garnering staff approval include Brazos Landing Town in Waco, which scored 79 points and is recommended to receive more than $933,000; Windhill Apartments in Giddings, which scored 34 points and may receive about $50,000; and Village of Meadowbend in Temple, which scored 77 points and is anticipated to receive about $817,000.

Nikelle Meade, an attorney for the developers, said Thursday that her clients would probably resubmit the project for a tax credits next year. She said they could also try to convince the board of TDHCA to fund their project even without the staff recommendation. The board is scheduled to make decisions on the tax credit funds at next Tuesday’s meeting. Meade said if they do not get the tax credits, Sloan and Pospisil may decide to put the project on a list for selection when the state does a lottery. Projects are selected for bond money in a lottery procedure once a year. The other alternative, she said, is to build all of the apartment units at market.

Jerry Harris, who works with Meade at Brown McCarroll, said the relationship between the developers and the neighborhood is remarkable and credited neighborhood leaders for their diligence. He said “the icing on the cake” for the closest neighbors, who live in Franklin Park, was the fact that Sloan and Pospisil were willing to rezone the land closest to that neighborhood to single-family. The developers could have built 300 multi-family units and 100 single-family homes under existing zoning, he said, but under the rezoning scenario there will only be 40 single-family homes and 160 apartments. “That’s a 50 percent reduction in density and traffic,” he said. “The developers worked equally as hard as the neighborhood, trying to meet with every faction,” he said.

The zoning was approved on first reading last week, but will return for second and third readings next week..

Landmark Commission refuses

To approve historic house move

Buyers would move Gustave Johnson house

A planned compromise to move the Gustave Johnson house to Hyde Park was no compromise at all to the Historic Landmark Commission earlier this week.

Gustave Johnson was a well-known stonemason and Austin settler at the turn of the previous century. His 1904 one-story board-and-batten wood frame house still sits at 510 Atlanta Street, off Lake Austin Boulevard. Owner Richard Miscoe, who bought 510 Atlanta Street and the adjacent lots for development, has worked for well over a year to relocate the historic house. The house sits on the planned driveway access for new houses being built by Miscoe and the Atlanta Street Development Corp.

The problem has been that no one wanted to take the dilapidated wooden house, which is the earliest home in the city’s Johnson Addition. Earlier this year, Miscoe proposed moving the home to the adjacent lot owned by the American Legion and turning a portion of it into office space, a zoning promptly shot down by members of the West Austin Neighborhood Group. WANG feared commercial encroachment. In desperation, Miscoe began to advertise in the newspaper for someone—anyone—to take the house.

The takers were Lisa and Karl Shackelford, who planned to move the house to Avenue H in Hyde Park and try to reinstate historic zoning designation. Lisa Shackelford said she worked next door to the house and had always had a soft spot for the building. Her loan to move and renovate the house was scheduled to close on July 31.

“We’ve been working this whole year to figure out a solution for this house,” Miscoe told commissioners and praised city historic officer Barbara Stocklin for her efforts. “I think where we are now is that the house does need to move and the new owners that we have found have the enthusiasm in their souls to let this remain a neat old house, which it is.”

In other words, Miscoe was pleased to help turn the house into a good home in Hyde Park. The Historic Landmark Commission, however, initiated historic zoning on it in July 2000 and they were less than thrilled Shackelford wanted to move the house, which has been unoccupied since 1964. Miscoe already has two houses built on adjacent lots. Commissioners agreed that the house would lose much of its historic value in relocation and eventually decided they did not want the house to move at all.

“I don’t think that the house needs to move,” Vice Chair Lisa Laky told her fellow commissioners. “I don’t see the need to move it other than the need to build something new, and I don’t think that needs to happen.”

HLC ultimately would deny the certificate of appropriateness to move the house on a split vote, with Chair Lauretta Dowd and Commissioners Laurie Limbacher and Liz Garcia-Goins voting against the decision to deny the permit to relocate the house.

Limbacher said the decision to okay the house move was a choice between “bad and worse,” but they intended to save the house. She closely questioned the Shackelfords, asking if they were willing and able to move and renovate the house as soon as possible. Miscoe was also questioned as to his willingness to go through with his plans for the lot on which the Gustave Johnson house sits. He assured commissioners that while he did not have funding until the two current houses are sold, he had put in infrastructure for the lot and fully intended to redevelop the 510 Atlanta Street as a single-family residence. A total of six lots will be developed under Miscoe’s plans for Atlanta Street.

Even Dowd admitted she could not support historic zoning if the house were moved to Avenue H. With the vote by the Historic Landmark Commission, the decision to designate the lot on which the house is sitting as historic is still pending. .

2001 In Fact News, Inc. All rights reserved.

Demonstration Saturday . . . Residents of Judges’ Hill, a residential neighborhood near UT fighting a proposed multi-story parking garage, announced Thursday that they will demonstrate at 10 a.m. Saturday along MLK and West Avenue. The group also plans to demonstrate again on August 8. The neighborhood group says the parking garage, proposed for the southwest corner of MLK and West Avenue will create traffic problems and endanger pedestrians walking from the garage to the planned office building across MLK on Rio Grande. The case is expected to appear on the August 9 City Council agenda . . . Mediation continuing . . . Members of the Hyde Park Neighborhood Planning Team and the Hyde Park Baptist Church met with Mayor Pro Tem Jackie Goodman and Council Member Danny Thomas yesterday to seek a resolution to their continuing dispute over land use in the neighborhood. The group will meet again next Wednesday to discuss suggestions to be generated by the church on a solution to the disagreement . . . ABIA traffic. . . The Austin-Bergstrom International Airport announced that passenger traffic exceeded 700,000 in June, for the third time in its history. That figure was one percent lower than in June 2000. The air cargo total for June 2001 was 25 million pounds, down 20 percent from last year. However, international cargo continues to grow, totaling more than 2.4 million pounds for June, a four-fold increase over June 2000.

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