tirz

especially . . . since tirz are being used for more than infrastructure

use a blank

We haven't seen this much snow in San Antonio since 1985. The flurries started to come down hard around 2 early Monday morning in downtown. By that point, streets and sidewalks, buildings and landmarks were covered in several inches of snow. Some downtown residents and hotel guests trekked out to take selfies. Homeless people cocooned themselves against buildings.

Photos by Ben Olivo, Heron & Isaiah Alonzo, Heron contributor

[et_bloom_inline optin_id="optin_1"]

Heron Editor Ben Olivo can be reached at 210-421-3932 | ben@saheron.com | @rbolivo on Twitter

The Aurora Apartments, 509 Howard St., may soon undergo a renovation.
The Aurora Apartments, 509 Howard St., may soon undergo a renovation. Feb. 10, 2021. Photo by Ben Olivo BEN OLIVO | HERON

Local developer Mitch Meyer wants to build an apartment tower in which to move residents of the low-income Aurora Apartments building so that he can return it to its original use as a hotel.

Meyer is applying for $15 million in federal tax credits from the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs to build the tower, named The Cosmopolitan, a block from the Aurora, in Tobin Hill. He said he’s in talks with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for an agreement ensuring that all 105 Aurora residents would get apartments in the new building at the same rents as before.

Built in 1930 as a luxury hotel, the 10-story Aurora doesn’t have a sprinkler system for its elderly residents. The city has required that all high-rises install sprinkler systems by 2028 after a fire claimed six lives at the Wedgwood senior living tower in Castle Hills in 2014.

“You ever have an old car that you love, but it keeps breaking down?” Meyer said of the Aurora. “These old buildings just get really expensive to operate… It’s really hard to put a sprinkler system in when people live there. I mean, the building is solid concrete.”

Along with the sprinklers, the building needs work done to its roof and its electrical and plumbing systems, as well as its heating and air conditioning, he said.

In 2017, there was a widely-reported bedbug and roach infestation at the building, and it still suffers maintenance problems. Meyer recently had to replace a water boiler after residents went three days without hot water, he said.

“These things happen in old buildings. That’s why we want to build a new one,” he said. “We inspect every week. We do not have bedbugs.”

All residents of the Aurora are elderly and make below 30 percent of the area median income, Meyer said. Their rents are subsidized with HUD housing choice vouchers.

Meyer said that he fears he would have to let his contract with HUD expire if he doesn’t get the tax credits. A spokesperson for HUD didn’t respond to a request for comment.

“If we don’t get the tax credits this year, then (the residents) run the risk of not having a place to live when the contract expires,” he said.

The Cosmopolitan would be built on an empty lot Meyer owns at 311 W. Laurel St. It would\ have a rooftop terrace, a fitness area, a community garden and a dog park, he said.

Architecture firm Gomez Vazquez International has drawn up a design for the project, and Meyer has recruited Joeris General Contractors to build it. All in all, he expects it to cost around $23 million.

Meyer has submitted a pre-application to the TDHCA, said Michael Lyttle, its director of external affairs. The deadline for the full application is March 1. The TDHCA’s governing board will award the tax credits in late July, Lyttle said.

City Council will vote Thursday on whether to support Meyer’s application, along with ten others for separate low-income housing developments across the city.

Meyer has owned the Aurora since 2007. He said he had been “walking down the aisle” with a hotel company about transforming it into a location for their brand before the Covid pandemic upended the hospitality sector.

With the Covid vaccine now being administered, he’s holding out hope that he can still turn the building into a hotel. If not, he thinks it might work as an apartment building, after renovations, though he noted that its floor space is limited, which would make it difficult to position as upscale residential space.

“It would be a boutique motel or something with an extended-stay piece,” he said. “Something a bit more upscale.”

The Aurora Apartments, 509 Howard St., may soon undergo a renovation.
The Aurora Apartments, 509 Howard St., may soon undergo a renovation. Photo by Ben Olivo | Heron

Local developer Mitch Meyer wants to build an apartment tower in which to move residents of the low-income Aurora Apartments building so that he can return it to its original use as a hotel.

Meyer is applying for $15 million in low-income housing tax credits from the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs to build the tower, named The Cosmopolitan, a block from the Aurora, in Tobin Hill. He said he's in talks with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for an agreement ensuring that all 105 Aurora residents would get apartments in the new building at the same rents as before.

Built in 1930 as a luxury hotel, the 10-story Aurora doesn't have a sprinkler system for its elderly residents. The city has required that all high-rises install sprinkler systems by 2028 after a fire claimed six lives at the Wedgwood senior living tower in Castle Hills in 2014.

"You ever have an old car that you love, but it keeps breaking down?" Meyer said of the Aurora. "These old buildings just get really expensive to operate… It's really hard to put a sprinkler system in when people live there. I mean, the building is solid concrete."

Along with the sprinklers, the building needs work done to its roof and its electrical and plumbing systems, as well as its heating and air conditioning, he said.

In 2017, there was a widely-reported bedbug and roach infestation at the building, and it still suffers maintenance problems. Meyer recently had to replace a water boiler after residents went three days without hot water, he said.

"These things happen in old buildings. That's why we want to build a new one," he said. "We inspect every week. We do not have bedbugs."

All residents of the Aurora are elderly and make below 30 percent of the area median income, Meyer said. Their rents are subsidized with HUD housing choice vouchers.

Meyer said that he fears he would have to let his contract with HUD expire if he doesn't get the tax credits. A spokesperson for HUD didn't respond to a request for comment.

"If we don't get the tax credits this year, then (the residents) run the risk of not having a place to live when the contract expires," he said.

The Cosmopolitan would be built on an empty lot Meyer owns at 311 W. Laurel St. It would have a rooftop terrace, a fitness area, a community garden and a dog park, he said.

Architecture firm Gomez Vazquez International has drawn up a design for the project, and Meyer has recruited Joeris General Contractors to build it. All in all, he expects it to cost around $23 million.

Meyer has submitted a pre-application to the TDHCA, said Michael Lyttle, its director of external affairs. The deadline for the full application is March 1. The TDHCA's governing board will award the tax credits in late July, Lyttle said.

City Council will vote Thursday on whether to support Meyer's application, along with ten others for separate low-income housing developments across the city.

Meyer has owned the Aurora since 2007. He said he had been "walking down the aisle" with a hotel company about transforming it into a location for their brand before the Covid pandemic upended the hospitality sector.

With the Covid vaccine now being administered, he's holding out hope that he can still turn the building into a hotel. If not, he thinks it might work as an apartment building, after renovations, though he noted that its floor space is limited, which would make it difficult to position as upscale residential space.

"It would be a boutique motel or something with an extended-stay piece," he said. "Something a bit more upscale."

ADD AMI CHART

link to TDHCA application

[et_bloom_inline optin_id="optin_1"]

Richard Webner is a freelance journalist covering Austin and San Antonio, and a former San Antonio Express-News business reporter. Follow him at @RWebner on Twitter

what is being proposed

How do vouchers work in regards to LLs? Who is allowed to receive vouchers? Who is not?

income discrimination ordinance
applies only to properties that receive city incentive?

"YES, if they receive a city incentive, that’s when it kicks in. i opened the slide … "

"no the LL is not obligated. SAHA is the primary facilitator, any LL they have t meet certain housing quality cetners. they have to make sure a unit rented with a vouhjcer needs to make sure. at least one annual inspection. they’re not the only ones who give vouchers. a LL is not obligated. people still have to need the other crtieria if a LL has. if LL still require a certain credit level to rent to their tenants, then that’s the criteria to rent to th eplace they have, then that’s fine. all it means is that if the tenant meet all the criteria, and they have a voucher, all things being equal, the voucher holder should be rented to. if the other criteria is what disqualifies, then they can do that. the reason … "

"you would think. exactly. it varies. i’m looking at our programs if we give someone the gap financing with cdbg or home, our programs already put that in play becaues that’s a federal rule, LL already nkow that they have to accept voucher holders, many of them go after hom e or cdbg funding because they want to house people with vouchers. the home and cdbg wants to ensure they can take vouchers and keep units affodable, in our pgorams its easy. the other programs that dont ahve that kind of rule already in place."

"CCDO incentives dont already have that. some of them as you know can be very sig amount of subsidy. and so ccdo doesn’t have the fed regulations if tye, oh by the way, . . . you also have to rent to voucher holders. another example, in NHSD we have funded with TRIRZ funding as well. but tirz funding itself doesn’t have that requirement. state law is what drives them ??? allows AH and housing in general to be eligible for tirz, but it doesn’t specify as much as hud does. the tirezs is more eco dev oriented.. tirz and ccdo and i think the last AH grant to a tirz, $1.5M . TIRZ by itself wouldn’t hage anything saying oh by the way you can’t turn people away if they happen to have a voucher. the source of income descrimination has to have some paridy across programs that dont have requirement, the funding sources."

"Yes, but they i would be careful to say those, it doesn’t prohibit them the people who receive city incentive from having their own crtieria for eligiblity to qualify tenants. it can’t be, oh i dont rent
you cant be a sex offender, your credit score has to be at least this high. they can still create their own criteria."

"from the advocacy, we dont have hard dat on that. if they have a voucher and they go to five dfifferen tplaces to try to rent, they are not always reporting back. they these trhee places turned me down, because we dont ahve a voucher."

"the comm advocates ahve said this is an issue. we dont have data tracking that, because we haven’t gone and asked."

"opart of it is, i thnk there was, it’s also what the state alloows us to do. if we’re giving someone a benefit, a new incentive to build AH, we can do it. there was some pushback a coupel of uyears ago when austin trying to do citywide, regardless if you had gotten an incentive. the state prohibited that. two maybe three months ago, we told them what the possibilities was. at the city we can’t do citywide for every apartment, for every LL tenant situations because the state prohibits us from doing it. the state does not prohibit us from property who received city incentive."

/// it’s just under this ord if you have operating. aprpertuy that had a city incentive, cannot turn people away simply on

the voucher cannot be the reason

is this a perceived or actual problem — what is the scale of this potential issue

benavidez
do we have data to back up this occuring in SA????
we do have the research that has been done
some members of the comm have done analysis by calling complexes

WHAT’S THE ANSWER?

What organizations did NHSD consult?

National study by Poverty & Race Action Council

Where did this come from?

Who has NHSD consulted?

BUT ARE current city incentivized developments doing the discrimination? Or is the anectital evidence coming from other LLs?

struck down by state in 2015, after mobilization by apartment comm members

WHAT HAPPENED NOW? DALLAS APT ASSOCIATIONS DIDN’T STRIKE DOWN?

now cities are preempted from adopting city wide ordinances

compliance period length of the award?

complaints work like current NDO ordinance?

punishment?

Feb. 8
planning and land development committee

# of city incentivized developments that do not accept the section 8 voucher.

SAHA figures on the topic

Mays Family Foundation

gives $1 million to Hemisfair

in honor of Peggy Mays

garden along East Nueva Street, "which stretches between Yanaguana Garden and the future Civic Park.

First seven figure gift, largest single

family matriarch who died on Nov. 11

Peggy Mays Garden
"will be a series of heavily planted areas, small trails and rest areas with a mix of plant species to attract pollinators."

"My mother was devoted to adding beauty and improving life for all San Antonians," Kathy Mays Johnson said in a press release. "Our family cannot think of a better way to honor her than with these exquisite gardens at Hemisfair that everyone can enjoy for generations."

The grant will fund the "design, construction and maintenance of the garden, including planting, trees, lighting and ample seating to pause and reflect on the beauty of nature."

Construction to begin late 2021

Is the Mays Garden within the scope of Civic Park?

How much funding has the Hemisfair Conservancy raised so far?

What is the status of Civic Park? When is construction going to begin?

WHAT CHANGED? IS IT REALLY? WHAT'S BEEN THE DELAY? JUST THE GARDEN OR THE CIVIC PARK AS WELL?

WHO IS THE DESIGN???

Downtown San Antonio in 2020 was dominated by images of a struggling economy amid a pandemic, and of protest. There were also signs of progress.

Here's a look at what transpired as captured by Heron staff and contributing freelance photographers. These images were published either on this website, or on the @sanantonioheron or @downtownsanantonio Instagrams.

[et_bloom_inline optin_id="optin_1"]

Contact the Heron at hello@saheron.com | @sanantonioheron on Twitter | Facebook

Pabst Brewing Co. is planning to build an arts complex inside this warehouse at Avenue B and Sixth Street.
Pabst Brewing Co. is planning to build an arts complex inside this warehouse at Avenue B and 6th Street. Photo by Ben Olivo | Heron

After recently relocating company headquarters to San Antonio, Pabst Brewing Co. is embarking on a new project: a 1.5-acre culture park to be housed in a renovated warehouse on the corner of Avenue B and 6th Street. The complex will include an indoor skate park, a bar, a rooftop movie theater, an art gallery, retail space and other attractions upon its projected spring 2021 opening, the San Antonio Report reported last week.

Pabst President and CEO Matt Bruhn told the Report he views the build as a way to support the community that supports them.

“It was very much that creative class, that kind of urban-dwelling, poor, cool, hip crowd that picked the brand up, so it became a symbol of that kind of movement,” Bruhn said. “So ever since then, because that’s who rebirthed the brand, we’ve been supporting the community.”

The announcement of the project comes just two months after the company relocated to San Antonio for the second time in its 176 year history.

The property is being leased to Pabst by real estate developer David Adelman, who believes the unique features Bruhn plans for the culture park—like a BMX track and skate park—will provide the city with more diversity and invite new demographics into the downtown area.

"An urban neighborhood is kind of like a fish tank and the most interesting fish tanks have a multi-species ecosystem … I feel like the urban core of San Antonio is like that," Adelman told the Heron.

According to Adelman, the 24,000-square-foot warehouse originally was the Spires-Douglas Buick auto garage and service base built in the 1950s. The renovation will be overseen by local architecture firm Lake Flato.

Bruhn said the project will be “an organic build,” predicting a six month timeline for the project; three for planning and another three for building.

Bruhn told the San Antonio Report that building the arts complex will not only help elevate the city but also draw more employees to Pabst.

“The better the city is perceived, the more successful we’ll be as a company recruiting people to come to the city to work,” he said.

Pabst was founded in 1844 in Milwaukee and has previously held corporate offices in Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles and San Antonio. The company was based in San Antonio from 1996 to 2006, and owned the Pearl Brewing Company.

Brigid Cooley is a Heron intern this fall. She is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications at Texas A&M University-San Antonio, where she also serves as editor-in-chief of The Mesquite newspaper. She can be reached at brigid@saheron.com, @brigidelise1 on Twitter

The San Antonio Express-News building on Avenue E and Third Street in 2019.
The San Antonio Express-News building at Avenue E and Third Street in 2019. Jullien Uriegas | Heron

By Sanford Nowlin | San Antonio Current

In its latest cost-cutting move, the San Antonio Express-News is vacating the building it's occupied since 1929 and relocating all printing to the Houston Chronicle, also owned by corporate parent Hearst Corp.

In a MySA article explaining the move, the daily said it's also eliminated 62 positions through voluntary buyouts, including 11 in the newsroom and 36 in its print shop. However, the paper will hire 10 newsroom staffers as part of its move, meaning it will largely offset the loss in editorial staff.

The relocation is only taking the Express-News a block away. The paper is leasing two floors of the Light building, once owned by Hearst, for a total of 22,000 square feet of space. The move will be complete by mid-March.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Downtown San Antonio (@downtownsanantonio)

“Throughout this pandemic, all of our employees have gone above and beyond the call of duty,” Express-News Publisher Mark Medici told MySA. “The voluntary separation program is an acknowledgment of these challenging times and provided an option for some employees to pursue other interests, retire early, spend more time with family or simply recharge and reset."

The voluntary buyouts follow a May 2018 layoff that trimmed 14 seasoned journalists from the paper's ranks. The paper's deepest personnel cut came in 2009, when it laid off 75 editorial employees, or a third of its newsroom.

Hearst put the Express-News' eight-story building and adjoining printing plant on the market in May of last year. It still hasn't located a buyer for the property. Medici didn't reveal terms of the rental deal for the Light building but said the move will slash operating expenses by 50%.

The Express-News and other daily newspapers have been in a continuous cost-cutting mode since the early 2000s as readers and ad dollars continue to defect online.

[et_bloom_inline optin_id="optin_1"]

This article is republished with permission from the San Antonio Current.

The San Antonio Current, San Antonio's award-winning alternative media company, has served as the city's premiere multimedia source of alternative news, events and culture since 1986.

Contact the Heron at hello@saheron.com | @sanantonioheron on Twitter | Facebook

Rodeway Inn Downtown

Top linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram