First Projects Under San Antonio's Revamped Downtown Housing Program to Include Affordable Units

A quartet of new developments asking for incentives under San Antonio's recently retooled housing incentive program pledged to set aside more than half their units for affordable housing, city officials said today.

The applications are the first since SA revamped its Center City Housing Incentive Policy, or CCHIP, last month. The plan, started by former mayor (and current presidential contender) Julián Castro, offers financial incentives for developers to create housing in existing downtown structures.

However, amid concerns about displacement and rising rents, current Mayor Ron Nirenberg paused CCHIP so the city could reexamine the rules. Among the changes council adopted in December, the program now excludes incentives for luxury developments and extends it into neighborhoods outside downtown.

According to the city, 238 of the 515 units in the proposed developments will be reserved for families making less than 60 percent of the area's median income. In a written statement, Nirenberg said that mix meets "the level of affordability that we need in San Antonio."

The new applications include:
  • Museum Reach Lofts, a 95-unit, $17.5 million project at the corner of West Jones Avenue and North St. Mary's Street. It's one of two projects submitted by Alamo Community Group, a San Antonio based non-profit housing developer.
  • Cattleman Square Lofts, Alamo Community Group's other submitted project, which will add 160 units west of downtown at 811 W. Houston St.
  • Augusta Apartments, a 260-unit development by Stillwater Capital at 819 Augusta St., near Central Catholic High School.
  • The Villas at Museum Reach, a $3.5 million townhouse project by MGS Museum Reach LLC on Dallas Street across from the Museum Reach Lofts.
The city's announcement suggests CCHIP's revisions may have moved it in the right direction.

Even so, prominent neighborhood activists complain the city rushed through the process without adequate community input. Many worry the changes don't go far enough to ensure low-income residents aren't forced out of the center city.

Keep watching those downtown rents. Four new developments may offer clues, but they can't tell the whole story.

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