Milestone Community Builders will go in front of City Council on Aug. 13 to potentially finalize details for any affordable housing units inside a new Central Austin subdivision called The Grove at Shoal Creek.
Developers of the project, a mixed-used, 75-acre development between Shoal Creek and Bull Creek Road just south of 45th Street, unveiled some revisions to the community’s master plan July 9 to surrounding neighbors. While specifics on the affordable housing component are still being solidified behind in the scenes in preparation of the August council meeting, Milestone CEO Garrett Martin said he is committed to keeping affordable housing on the site, even if it comes at a cost to his firm.
“We’re working on a plan that will require not only our participation but the city of Austin and affordable housing groups in the overall solution, and that solution should bring in an unprecedented amount of affordable housing into one of Austin’s most wealthiest neighborhoods,” Martin said.
Affordable rental units would be available to those making between 30 percent to 60 percent—and possibly as high as 80 percent—of the area’s median family income, or MFI, and homes sold on the open market would be available to those making 80 percent to 140 percent MFI, Martin said. Under existing federal MFI guidelines, that means a couple would need to make $18,450 to $36,900 annually to qualify for a one-bedroom apartment, and a family of four’s combined income when seeking to purchase a home would need to be between $61,450 and $107,500 annually.
Martin and his team also unveiled other changes during the July 9 meeting, including an expansion of the proposed Signature Park from 12 to 13 acres. Milestone also expressed interest in increasing the size of the proposed pocket park along Bull Creek Road and creating infrastructure to better connect parks and retail areas for surrounding neighbors, said Robert Deegan, an architect with Norris Design, the firm hired by the developers.
“The overall notion that people want to be able to get to the site easily, they want to feel connected they want the site to not feel separate … that was a very common thing, and I think we’re doing a very good job of that given the constraints of the site,” Deegan said.
Much of the recent feedback from community members is positive, Martin said. The Grove at Shoal Creek team on July 11 hosted an outdoor community gathering called Grovefest that attracted more than 2,000 people. Martin said he is most often asked when houses will be ready to purchase because many people are interested in living in the community.
The biggest concern among nearby community members based on feedback so far is a potential increase in traffic, Martin said. A traffic impact analysis study determined the development would create 24,000 additional “trips”; however, that does not mean each trip is taken by a different individual or is taken in a car. For the study, a trip is considered anytime someone crosses the threshold of a destination whether that person arrived at his or her destination by car, public transportation, bicycle or walking.
Therefore, if one person were to leave his or her home then visit one store and return home, that would be considered four trips because a threshold was crossed four times. If that same person were to instead visit two more destinations such as an office or restaurant before returning home, that would be considered eight trips, Martin said.
Many of those trips will be generated by people living within The Grove at Shoal Creek community who will likely bike or walk to get to a retail or restaurant location instead of using a car, Martin said.
To further alleviate concerns, the team reduced the amount of office space planned for the site from 350,000 square feet to 225,000 square feet, a move Martin said will help mitigate congestion during peak travel times.
Norris Design, Overland Partners and JHP will continue work on the project, with Overland designing the vision and concept of the residential areas, JHP ensuring those visions translate into safe and structurally sound buildings and Norris Design designing the community’s outdoor spaces. Martin said he previously hoped to break ground on the project by the end of 2015, but that it is now more likely to occur in early 2016.