Bexar County to aid in Hemisfair's housing affordability

by Ben OlivoDecember 10, 2018
The '68 apartments are shown under construction behind Yanaguana Garden recently. HERON FILE PHOTO

In a vote last week, Bexar County Commissioners agreed to begin negotiations to participate in the Hemisfair Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ)—a mechanism that invests revenue from the rise in property taxes toward projects and upgrades within its boundaries.

COURTESY CITY OF SAN ANTONIO

The partnership, if ultimately agreed upon, could mean millions of additional dollars Bexar County would contribute toward housing affordability efforts inside Hemisfair.

For its part, the county would contribute 50 percent of its property tax revenue within the TIRZ's boundary over 12 years beginning in 2019—worth an estimated $4.4 million—said David Marquez, the county's Executive Director of Economic and Community Development.

Hemisfair CEO Andres Andujar said the specific project and use of the county's $4.4 million would be determined later.

At Hemisfair, two affordability mechanisms already exist for housing built within the park.

What's AMI?
The area median income for a family of four in the greater San Antonio area (including New Braunfels) is $66,800. Here's how it breaks down for lower-income households:
» 80% - $53,440
» 70% - $46,760
» 60% - $40,800
» 50% - $33,400
» 40% - $26,720
» 30% - $20,400
Source: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

One is a nonprofit entity called the Hemisfair Park Public Facility Corp. (PFC), which has the ability to grant a full tax exemption to a developer in exchange for providing half the units to households making below the area median income (AMI), according to state law. This incentive is voluntary, meaning the developer could choose to charge market-rate rents, but they wouldn't receive the tax exemption.

The other is Hemisfair's own affordability requirement, which states that between 10 percent and 50 percent of a development's total units be rented to households making between 50 percent and 110 percent AMI. In addition, rents cannot be higher than 25 percent of the household's income.

Currently, the only residential development at Hemisfair is David Adelman's The '68. It's receiving the full tax exemption. In exchange, half of the units will be offered to people making 80 percent AMI. And, in accordance with Hemisfair's requirement, 10 percent of the total units will be available to people making between 50 and 70 percent AMI.

For the planned civic park at the southeast corner of Alamo and Market streets, NRP Group has been chosen to build apartments—part of a massive $200 million development that will frame the grand park. It's unclear at this time whether the development will be granted a full tax exemption, or to what degree it will participate in Hemisfair's housing affordability guidelines, because the deal has not yet been closed.

Zachry Hospitality is chief developer of the civic park's buildings, which will also include a 14-story hotel and an eight-story office mid-rise.

Before any of those buildings go up, an underground parking structure will be built. Andujar said that construction could begin the first quarter of 2019.

Finally, Hemisfair's third phase, around the Tower of the Americas, is still unplanned. Andujar said dates for a public process would be chosen in the next 30-45 days.

Contact Ben Olivo: 210-421-3932 | ben@saheron.com | @rbolivo on Twitter

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