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Montopolis project gets Council go-ahead

Tuesday, May 10, 2022 by Jonathan Lee

City Council approved a rezoning Thursday that will bring affordable housing for women and children experiencing homelessness to the Montopolis neighborhood.

The rezoning from Family Residence (SF-3-NP) to Multifamily-Moderate Density (MF-4-NP), which Council approved on all three readings, will allow approximately 75 homes on a 3-acre site at 1013 and 1017 Montopolis Drive. Twenty percent of the project’s square footage will be leased to Saint Louise House, a nonprofit that provides affordable housing and support services to mothers and their children experiencing homelessness.

“Collaboration with the (property owner) Montopolis Acres LP represents a pathway to expansion, allowing us to quickly provide home and partnership to more mothers and children in Austin,” said Netanya Jamieson, director of programs at Saint Louise House. According to Jamieson, 60-80 families are on the waitlist for one of the nonprofit’s 46 existing apartments.

Homes will be offered at varying levels of affordability. Five percent of the project’s residential square footage will be reserved for households making 30 percent of the median family income; another 5 percent will be affordable at 50 percent MFI; and another 10 percent will be affordable at 80 percent MFI. The MFI for the Austin metro area is $110,300. 

The nonprofit has the option to lease additional space or provide more affordable rents with more private funding, according to Ron Thrower, who represents the property owner. The rest of the homes will sell at market rate.

The applicant originally requested Multifamily-Highest Density (MF-6-NP) zoning, but amended the request to MF-4 – in line with what the Planning Commission recommended in February 2021. The case also had a valid petition, meaning it needed at least nine votes to pass. Council approved the rezoning to MF-4 on a 9-0 vote, with Council members Leslie Pool and Mackenzie Kelly absent.

While some neighbors at the Planning Commission hearing expressed concern that the project would exacerbate gentrification, no one spoke in opposition Thursday. According to Thrower, some neighbors who had opposed the rezoning changed their minds after the property owner explained the details of the project. The lack of controversy in this case contrasts with the infamous Kemp Street rezoning, which Council did not approve despite it being associated with a similar project.

Conceptual rendering by Logan Architects, courtesy Thrower Design.

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