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Council approves zoning changes for Oak Creek Village development

Friday, June 28, 2013 by Elizabeth Pagano

Though it looked like rough going for a while, the Oak Creek Village development at 2324 Wilson Street in South Austin got its zoning change in the late hours of Thursday night’s City Council meeting.

 

In a vote of 6-0, Council approved the change from MF-3 to MF-6. Council Member Bill Spelman was absent.

 

“We’ve talked recently about the importance of preserving affordable housing and the fact that this is a one-to-one outcome and, presumably, the first in the city. That’s just a fabulous opportunity, and it gives me great hope for the city, that we can actually accomplish something like this,” said Council Member Laura Morrison. “I hope we can use this as a model.”

 

The increased zoning will allow developers to build 486 units on the lot while maintaining the 173 units of affordable housing that exist currently. The balance of the units will be market-rate, making the project a unique compromise.

 

Oak Creek Village is home to the only HUD-backed housing in the Bouldin Creek neighborhood.

 

Winstead PC attorney John Donisi said he was proud to be part of the first one-for-one replacement of federally-backed affordable housing in Austin, calling the project innovative.

 

After weeks of negotiation, a deal was struck with the Oak Creek Tenants’ Association Tuesday night. Though the association was looking to support the project, during the first reading at City Council on June 11, members said a few sticking points remained. The group was clear that without increased security and inclusion of on-site programs for residents, which would be stipulated in a private covenant, they would not be supporting the rezoning.

 

A private restrictive covenant between the tenants’ association and 2207 Travis Heights LLP will insure current affordability levels through HAP contract applications, increase security from 15 to 40 patrol hours per week, a relocation program for tenants while construction is underway, and youth programming.

 

In a separate private agreement, the Bouldin Creek Neighborhood Association also cemented its support.

 

BCNA president Cyndi Collen spoke in support of the redevelopment. She said that the neighborhood initially had concerns about the project, particularly with the increased density, and traffic. However, she explained that a few hours prior to the meeting the neighborhood had reached an agreement with the developer and was officially unopposed to the zoning, “proving why Bouldin Creek is really special.”

 

In a press release, Austin Interfaith represntative and President of the Oak Creek Tenant’s Association Koreena Malone expressed her support. “Too often a diverse voice is lacking in shaping the city’s future,” said Malone. “This proves that a new relationship between developers, residents and the city built on respect, tolerance and patience is possible.”

 

Malone spoke at City Council about the agreement with 2007 Travis Heights LLP , saying it would set a “precedent for positive growth in Austin.”

 

Austin Interfaith leader Kurt-Cadena Mitchell reminded those in attendance that the project came about after a lot of work, saying that were it not for that work, something very different could have happened.

 

Under the terms of a private covenant with the current tenants, the developer will also commit to relocating tenants while construction takes place (if necessary) and agree to retain the affordable units for the next 35 years. The remainder of the units, Phase II of the plan, will be market-rate condominiums.

Additionally, developers have agreed to limit the height to 60 feet, impervious cover to 70 percent and restrict vehicle access to West Oltorf and South First streets.

In March, Council unanimously voted to approve contingent funding for the project in the amount of $2 million. That money is dependent on the project receiving tax credits from the state. That process is underway, though zoning for the project must be in place by an August deadline.

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