After hitting a snag in financing the Cattleman Square Lofts, a rare affordable housing apartment building planned for 811 W. Houston St., nonprofit developer Alamo Community Group is taking a new route.
The developer is turning to the San Antonio Housing Trust, a city nonprofit that offers subsidies to developers in exchange for building mixed-income apartments.
If the deal is solidified, Alamo Community Group (ACG) would receive up to $15 million in tax-exempt affordable housing bonds toward the $21.7 million project, and a full property tax exemption—both from the Housing Trust and its entities with the power to grant those incentives. ACG would also apply for 4% low-income housing tax credits to help fill the gap.
The area median income (AMI) for a family of four in the greater San Antonio area (Bandera, Bexar, Comal, Guadalupe and Wilson counties) is $71,000, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Here’s how it breaks down for lower-income households:
» 80% – $56,800
» 70% – $49,700
» 60% – $42,600
» 50% – $35,500
» 40% – $28,400
» 30% – $21,300
Editor’s note: For a complete AMI breakdown by household sizes, scroll to the bottom of this article.
The nonprofit developer wants to build the 138-unit Cattleman Square Lofts on 1.5 acres of land across from VIA’s Centro Plaza on Frio Street. The vast majority of the units will be reserved for people making between 30% and 70% area median income (AMI). ACG purchased the land, which includes a historic structure, from Alamo Colleges District late last year.
“We don’t land bank, we don’t buy land and sit and hold property and wait for either the value to increase or the right deal to come along,” said Jennifer Gonzalez, ACG’s executive director. “We buy with the intent of building on it or developing it or rehabbing it.”
The deal would be the first time the Housing Trust partners with a nonprofit. To date, its 23 partnerships have been with for-profit developers, which have been criticized by housing advocates and observers who say the developers are capitalizing on incentives (mainly full property tax exemptions) in exchange for housing that’s not affordable enough to meet San Antonio’s need. Many of the projects produce an abundance of apartments for households making 80% AMI, or $56,800 for a family of four in this region—and call them affordable. The criticism was first chronicled in the San Antonio Express-News in January 2018, and followed up October 2018 and February 2020.
Proponents of the program say the downtown area needs a healthy mix of rents. Also, in recent years, the five City Council members who run the Housing Trust have slowly started to demand lower rents are built into the projects.
ACG’s model is to offer rents to household making as low as 30% AMI.
“For us, we’re still pushing to maintain the same affordability levels, which is why we’re looking at working with the trust so we can work on getting the (tax) exemption,” Gonzalez said last week.
ACG was pursuing 9% low-income housing tax credits, a highly competitive federal affordable housing program in which only a handful of projects in a region receive the credits out of a few dozen applicants. However, in the San Antonio region, the Cattleman Square apartments ranked low on the list and is unlikely to receive the credits, which are sold to investors for cash to build the development.
ACG is currently building the $17.5 million, 94-unit Museum Reach Lofts near the Pearl with plans to offer the vast majority of rents to households making between 30% and 60% AMI.
Housing Trust’s Finance Corp. board, which is composed of City Council members Roberto Treviño (District 1), Rebecca Viagran (D3), Dr. Adriana Rocha Garcia (D4), Shirley Gonzales (D4) and John Courage (D10), voted last Tuesday to pursue a bond allocation on behalf of the Alamo Community Group to the Texas Bond Review Board.
Cattleman Square Lofts
» Developer: Alamo Community Group (San Antonio)
» Address: 811 W. Houston St.
» Property owner: ACG
» Type: Apartments
» Height: Four stories
» Units: 138 units
» Rental type: Vast majority of units for household making between 30%-70% area median income. Some market-rate rents.
» Land size: 1.5 acres
» Cost: $21.7 million
» Financing: Raza Development Fund (Phoenix)
» Public subsidies: ACG will pursue 4% low-income housing tax credits, and is seeking $15 million in affordable housing tax-exempt bonds and a full property tax exemption from the San Antonio Housing Trust. Also eligible for $83,522 in city development fee waivers, $480,160 SAWS fee waivers under San Antonio’s Center City Housing Incentive Policy (CCHIP).
» Return on investment: Unknown
» Construction start date: Unknown
» End date: Unknown
» Architects: Unknown
Oct. 23, 2019
ACG purchases property from Alamo Colleges District for $2.8 million.
ACG applies for CCHIP incentives for Cattleman Square Lofts after the program is revamped by the City Council the previous month. Read more.
ACG puts in a bid of $2.8 million to the Alamo Colleges District for the property at 811 W. Houston St. The University of Texas at San Antonio places a bid of $400,000. Read more.
Area median income
Here are the latest area median income (AMI) levels for the greater San Antonio area (Bandera, Bexar, Comal, Guadalupe and Wilson counties), according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Want to know more about how AMI works? Click here.
|Area Median Income (AMI) by limit and household size|
|1 person||2 person||3 person||4 person||5 person||6 person||7 person||8 person|
|Area Median Income||$49,700||$56,800||$63,900||$71,000||$76,680||$82,360||$88,040||$93,720|