Developers behind proposed mixed-use community The Grove at Shoal Creek have unveiled an affordable housing component in hopes of receiving Austin City Council’s approval.
The 75-acre development will be completed by Milestone Community Builders between Shoal Creek Boulevard and Bull Creek Road on land formerly owned by the Texas Department of Transportation. Apartments, townhomes, single-family homes and accessory dwelling units have been contemplated for the project so residents can live near anticipated parkland, office space and commercial retail outlets.
About 90 to 100 for-rent affordable units will be available for those earning between 30 percent to 60 percent of the area’s median family income, or MFI. That means a family of four earning between $24,250 and $46,080 would qualify. There are also plans for about 80 to 85 for-sale units, which would be restricted to those earning between 80 percent and 140 percent MFI, or $61,450 to $107,520 for a family of four.
“We think the council will recognize the fact that we’re providing a broad range of affordability on site instead of fee in lieu of [building off site] in one of Austin’s wealthiest neighborhoods in a project that’s trying to create a measured balance of all the competing interests,” Milestone CEO Garrett Martin said.
Austin City Council intends to postpone an Aug. 13 vote that would set the development’s baseline guidelines. Because The Grove at Shoal Creek developers have submitted a Planned Unit Development, or PUD, application to the city, council can set a baseline to help determine how much affordable housing is required within the development.
The affordable units Martin proposed would total 180,000 square feet, and no less than 24 of the 120 single-family residential units would have accessory dwelling units, or ADUs, on the property. The ADUs would be owned and controlled by the property owner, Martin said.
“ADUs should be housing stock that can be used for exchange students or for people that are just getting a start in life … and then you have an intermingling of people who have more established lives, maybe even some wealth,” Martin said. “If you’re a start up guy and you’ve got no money, you could live in an ADU and you might be [renting] from a guy that’s going to fund your business.”
The wide range of affordable units was done in hopes of addressing Austin’s “missing-middle” housing supply, Martin said. Developers also may incorporate micro units into the project’s plans as well as apartments that can fit a family’s needs, he said.
The Bull Creek Road Coalition, a neighborhood group formed to speak on behalf of various neighborhoods near the development, supports adding as many affordable housing units as possible, said Sara Speights, the newly appointed BCRC president.
BCRC recently presented an alternative vision for the development to Martin and his team. One of the main tenants of the BCRC’s plan is to increase the 12-acre Signature Park to more than 30 acres of parkland.
Speights said BCRC would like to see the amount of retail within the development reduced in favor of more residential units to more closely resemble how residential units coincide with commercial space at the intersection of 43rd and Duval streets. She said her group’s biggest concern relates to potential increases traffic resulting from the new development, the project’s high density and how much parkland is available to the community.
Martin said his team would like to incorporate as much of the BCRC’s plan as possible, but having a 30-plus acre park would make The Grove at Shoal Creek economically unviable.
“We all want park space, but ‘How much is too much?’ is the question people need to ask because too much park space is going to reduce density, and it’s going to reduce affordability when you have a developer like us that’s willing to bring affordable housing to fruition,” Martin said.
Speights and other BCRC members have voiced concern they cannot petition the zoning case because the land was not previously zoned. Only rezoning cases can be petitioned by neighbors, according to emails from Austin city staff. Speights said neighbors are being denied their rights by not being able to petition any zoning case.