Affordable housing complex in Lake Travis area considered essential, will move forward

Kent Conine, one of the developers for The Villas at Lakeway, said that at this time, he is expecting construction to begin around the end of April. (Rendering illustration courtesy Kent and Meg Conine/Jay Jones/Community Impact Newspaper)
Kent Conine, one of the developers for The Villas at Lakeway, said that at this time, he is expecting construction to begin around the end of April. (Rendering illustration courtesy Kent and Meg Conine/Jay Jones/Community Impact Newspaper)

Kent Conine, one of the developers for The Villas at Lakeway, said that at this time, he is expecting construction to begin around the end of April. (Rendering illustration courtesy Kent and Meg Conine/Jay Jones/Community Impact Newspaper)

The Villas at Lakeway, a 180-unit affordable housing complex scheduled to begin construction this spring, is sallying forth despite project delays.

Kent Conine, one of the developers for the project, which is set to be located at 2309 N. RM 620, Austin, said that at this time, he is expecting construction to begin around the end of April.

"That is regardless [of what happens with the coronavirus]," Conine said. He added that construction was originally anticipated to begin in March, but there have been delays on the project. Some are related to COVID-19, and others are not, including those having to do with Travis County and applicable utility districts.

"Pretty much everybody is working from home right now, which makes it a little bit tougher," Conine said. "But we're still getting responses from everybody. We are pretty much protected as an essential business in the construction world."

Travis County and the city of Austin announced shelter-in-place orders at a March 24 press conference. While not identical, both orders dictate that individuals should remain in their places of residence except to conduct essential activities and that nonessential businesses should have employees work from home. Those restrictions do not apply to The Villas at Lakeway nor to any other ongoing Travis County affordable housing projects.

"If I had all of my approvals today, I could have 150 guys out there tomorrow working. ... We're constructing shelter, which is much-needed," he said.

The Villas at Lakeway will be open to those making 60% of the Greater Austin area's median household income, which in 2019 was $95,900. Depending on qualification requirements, tenants could earn anywhere from 30%-80% of the median annual household income.

Projected rent for the complex right now stands at $830 a month for a studio apartment and ranges up to $1,249 for a three-bedroom apartment. Once construction begins, The Villas at Lakeway could see its first tenants moving in 12 months later, and the entire complex could be fully occupied by the first or second quarter of 2022, according to Conine.

With regard to physical distancing considerations for when construction does begin, Conine said he routinely deals with subcontractors, so they will be instructed to adhere to all of the mandates the county has, including distancing requirements, to the best of their ability.

Regarding the delays getting approvals from Travis County and other entities, Conine said he understands it is difficult for everyone trying to move forward with projects right now.

"We're just one of many projects that want to get started in Travis County, I'm sure," Conine said. "But now, with the virus and all of its implications layered on top of that, it just doesn't make their life any easier."
By Brian Rash
Brian has been a reporter and editor since 2012. He wrote about the music scene in Dallas-Fort Worth before becoming managing editor for the Graham Leader in Graham, Texas, in 2013. He relocated to Austin, Texas, in 2015 to work for Gatehouse Media's large design hub. He became the editor for the Lake Travis-Westlake publication of Community Impact in August 2018.


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