The Museum Reach Lofts, a rare affordable apartment project that nonprofit Alamo Community Group (ACG) is developing, was approved for a $2.8 million incentive this morning by the Midtown Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone board.
Construction is scheduled to begin March 30, and be completed in September 2020.
The award will be used to reimburse the nonprofit for the cost of purchasing the land.
Overall, the $17.5 million, five-story project will add 94 apartments to the southeast corner of North St. Mary's Street and West Jones Avenue, just north of the San Antonio Museum of Art. The area is close to the Pearl, one of the priciest districts to live in San Antonio—not just downtown. Most rents in this area hover above $2 a square foot.
At the Museum Reach Lofts, 42 units will be offered to households making 60 percent of the area median income (rents between $624-794), 35 units at 50 percent AMI ($513-$651), and nine units at 30 percent AMI ($290-$365). The remaining eight units will be market-rate priced, between $774 and $1,008).
[ Editor's note: The area median income used here is $66,800 for a family of four, the latest figure provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for the greater San Antonio area. Some city departments, and the Mayor's Housing Policy Task Force, use a 2016 figure from the U.S. Census American Community Survey 1-year estimate. ]
"This we consider to be a very exciting day to have affordable (units) downtown," ACG executive director Jennifer Gonzalez told the board.
Earlier this year, the project also receive 9 percent low-income housing tax credits, a federal program administered by the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs.
For the project, ACG, which also owns the low-income Calcasieu Apartments at 214 Broadway, is also receiving $323,419 in city and SAWS fee waivers through the city's Inner City Reinvestment and Infill Policy program, and a $564,000 forgivable development at no interest from the Center City Development & Operations department.
So, many incentives, which is how this project's affordability is possible, Gonzalez has said in the past.
"We are dealing with trying to find creative ways to really put affordable units on the ground," Gonzalez said in a previous interview. "We’re not trying to maximize those profits. At the end of the day, we’re just trying to figure out how to drive down those rents."
Gonzalez has said this level of affordability is critical to the many lower-income workers in the downtown area—not just in the service industry, but people with lower-paying office jobs.
After the meeting ended, one employer made the same point.
"I'm going to employee some folks who will be able to live that close," Richard Hartman, co-owner of Tycoon Flats on North St. Mary's Street, told members of the ACG team after the meeting adjourned.
In exchange for the incentive, ACG agrees to keep the rents affordable for 35 years.
The City Council still has to approve the TIRZ incentive. In a TIRZ, the increment in revenue generated from the rise in property values is reinvested back into public improvements within the zone.