City may buy Rodeway Inn in South Austin, renovate property to house homeless

Austin City Council will consider purchasing and renovating a motel property along I-35 in South Austin to provide shelter for the city's homeless individuals. (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin City Council will consider purchasing and renovating a motel property along I-35 in South Austin to provide shelter for the city's homeless individuals. (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)

Austin City Council will consider purchasing and renovating a motel property along I-35 in South Austin to provide shelter for the city's homeless individuals. (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)

On Nov. 14, Austin City Council is set to decide on whether to purchase a motel in South Austin with the intention to renovate the property to house homeless individuals in the city.

According to agenda documents posted for the Nov. 14 meeting, the city is considering adding $8 million to its fiscal year 2019-20 budget to accommodate the purchase. The city would purchase the 1.3-acre Rodeway Inn property at 2711 S. I-35 for no more than $6.4 million, while the $8 million allocated to the budget includes both the purchase price and funding for renovation, according to agenda documents.

City documents stated the property is approximately 32,000 square feet with about 87 rooms available.

In June, City Council authorized the $8.6 million purchase of a 1.6-acre tract at 1112 W. Ben White Blvd. to become a 100-bed homeless shelter, the first expansion of Austin’s homeless shelter system since 2004.

The shelter on Ben White Boulevard will operate under a housing-first model, meaning people can only be referred to the shelter through service providers, and it will focus its resources on connecting to case management.

Mayor Steve Adler said the model under which the new facility will operate has not been finalized, and that will be among the topics of conversation at City Council’s Nov. 12 work session.

In a statement released Nov. 8, Adler said he hopes this location will be “the first of several hotel properties to rapidly house and help permanently stabilize people in our community experiencing homelessness.”

“This type of property conversion has worked in cities around the country, providing housing and wraparound services in collaboration with service providers,” Adler said in the statement.

On Nov. 14, council will also decide whether to fund the purchase and renovation of the property through certificates of obligation—tools for governments to pay for local projects in which the city reimburses itself from the issuance of future debt. Certificates of obligation do not require voter approval.

In October, a media report from Austin NBC affiliate KXAN listed the Mountain Star Lodge in Bee Cave on a list of hotels that Austin could potentially buy to house homeless individuals.

According to Bee Cave City Council Member Kara King, a real estate firm Austin city staff tasked with compiling a list of possible Austin hotels and motels to target initially listed the Mountain Star Lodge, but upon realizing that a property outside of Austin city limits was on the list, city staff struck it from consideration.


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