St. John's Square gets initial nod from design commission

by Ben OlivoMarch 21, 2019
The eight-story, 250-unit St. John's Square development is being proposed for the southeast corner of St. Mary's and Nueva streets. Courtesy Mark Odom Studio

The design of an eight-story apartment project near La Villita, known as St. John's Square, was approved without discussion by the Historic and Design Review Commission on Wednesday.

The development is a partnership between Austin developer Dennis McDaniel, who built the Steel House Lofts on South Flores Street, the San Antonio Housing Authority and St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church, which owns the 1.3-acre property.

It would add 250 apartments and at least 6,000 square feet of retail space to the southeast corner of South St. Mary's and East Nueva streets.

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

The current proposal would price 20 percent of the total units—or, 50—for households making 50 percent of the area median income (AMI), or $33,400 for a family of four, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

The funding structure is still being built, said Tim Alcott, SAHA's real estate and legal services officer. SAHA brings to the table various funding mechanisms, such as the issuing of bonds through the San Antonio Housing Finance Corp., and a full property tax exemption SAHA properties are eligible for under state law.

Such an exemption could mean a deeper mix of income-levels—the exemption requires half of the units to be offered to households making 80 percent AMI.

Alcott said SAHA would also pursue 4 percent low-income housing tax credits, a federal program administered by the state, later this year.

It's also exploring investments through HUD's Opportunity Zone program, and obtaining the department's Section 221(d)(4) mortgage loan.

The church, which is located east of the parking lot being eyed for the development, would offer up the land and, in exchange, would receive spots from the project's parking garage and revenue from the rents.

SAHA would also receive part of the rent revenue.

The project has also received a $3.2 million incentives package—$2.3 million of which is a rebate on city property taxes over 15 years—from the city's Center City Housing Incentive Program.

The project could cost as much as $50 million, McDaniel, who signed a 99-year lease with St. John's church, told the Heron last year.

Previously published
» St. John’s apartments design now features big round corner
» St. John’s Square would offer workforce housing near La Villita
» SAHA plans to add fourth development between Hemisfair and Lavaca

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

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