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Crestview Village appears to be headed toward Council approval

Wednesday, August 25, 2021 by Amy Smith

A brighter future may be in store for a city-owned storage site in North Austin as the plan for an ambitious redevelopment project combining affordable housing, mass transit, creative space and a park finally nears completion.

City Council is expected to authorize city staffers Thursday to begin negotiating an agreement with 3423 Holdings LLC, which scored the highest in a bid process in which seven competitors vied for the opportunity to redevelop a prime 5.5-acre property at the intersection of Ryan Drive and Justin Lane.

Given its location adjacent to the Crestview MetroRail Station, the parcel is in one of Austin’s more commercially vibrant neighborhoods, near Lamar and Airport boulevards.

The winning proposal, called Crestview Village, appears to check nearly every box of the city’s strategic planning goals. The developer is proposing 344 residential units, with half of the 335 rental units for tenants at or below 60 percent of the median family income and nine of the units to be sold to buyers at or below 80 percent MFI.

Another alternative presented in the proposal would be to deepen the affordability levels with city subsidies. At Tuesday’s work session, Council Member Leslie Pool, whose District 7 encompasses the site, said she would bring a motion Thursday to, among other things, direct city negotiators to work toward achieving the more deeply affordable housing goals.

In her remarks, Pool commended the work of several staff members, their departments and residents who shepherded a challenging process first initiated by Council Member Kathie Tovo in 2013. The plan for redeveloping the site was temporarily sidelined when a Crestview neighborhood coalition turned up the volume on its demands that the entire parcel be redeveloped for parkland.

Times changed when the new 10-1 Council arrived in 2015, and as Austin continued to grow, so did the need for affordable housing and other community services. Pool and her staff worked with Crestview and other neighborhood representatives, as well as city departments, to help create a more realistic plan for the Austin Energy parcel. Once the idea started to take shape as a multi-use project, the city issued a request for proposals to redevelop the site.

Pool thanked the Ryan Drive Working Group that included representatives from the Crestview, Brentwood, Midtown Commons at Crestview Station, and Highland neighborhoods “who dedicated themselves for months to organizing, surveying residents, and crafting what ultimately became the guiding document for this project: the Ryan Drive Working Group Report.”

The 3423 Holdings proposal calls for partnering with several nonprofits to achieve the goals outlined in the developer’s plan. Habitat for Humanity is on board for developing nine townhomes at 80 percent MFI, or at more affordable levels if the city provides subsidies. Either way, the townhomes will remain affordable for 99 years.

According to the proposal, the developer will also rely on the Ending Community Homelessness Coalition, the Austin Area Urban League, Austin Asian Community Health Initiative, the SAFE Alliance and the Boomer Collective to help spread the message of available income-restricted units once the project is underway.

If all goes as planned, the redevelopment will also feature 3.2 acres of parkland and 16,575 square feet of commercial, community services and art space, including a small grocery store, two restaurants, a health care and wellness center, an affordable child care center, and 1,040 square feet of artist studios and exhibition space.

Rendering courtesy of Michael Hsu Office of Architecture. 

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