The development group behind the envisioned 253-unit St. John’s Square apartments near La Villita has struggled to secure a construction lender during the pandemic, an official with the San Antonio Housing Authority (SAHA), which is a partner in the project, told the agency’s board last week.
The partnership, which is being lead by Austin developer Dennis McDaniel, wants to build an eight-story, mixed-use development while leasing the bulk of the 1.3 acres of land at 410 E. Nueva St. from neighboring St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church for 99 years.
The project will include 253 units—200 luxury apartments and 53 reserved for people making 50% of the area median income or less. Fifty of the 53 affordable units will be offered to residents enrolled in a federal voucher program called Moving to Work.
» 1 — $25,200
» 2 — $28,800
» 3 — $32,400
» 4 — $36,000
» 5 — $38,900
» 6 — $41,800
» 7 — $44,650
» 8 — $47,550
For a complete AMI breakdown that shows other household sizes, scroll down to the bottom of this article.
Source: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
“We’ll work with employers in the downtown area in order to provide those jobs that actually have a pathway to increase their income and progress in their employment,” Lorraine Robles, SAHA’s director of development services and neighborhood revitalization, told the board last Thursday.
For the affordable units, rents will be capped at $621 for studios, $665 for one-bedrooms, and $798 for two-bedrooms. Those who rent these apartments will not pay more than 30% of their income on rent, and will also receive utility allowances between $76 and $125.
SAHA will contribute $375,000 in an annual subsidy to help offset the lower rents.
Meanwhile, market-rate luxury studios range from $1,206 to $1,567, one-bedrooms from $1,532 to $1,955, and two-bedrooms from $2,068 to $2,888.
[ Editor’s note: The affordable rents are capped by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. If they seem high, we suggest you read our analysis of how area median income works. The market-rate rents are unregulated, hence the name, and are projections from a market study the partnership completed some time in 2019. Also, this data was pulled from the St. John’s Square incentives application packet, which you can read here. ]
For its part, SAHA is seeking up to $60 million in tax-exempt low-income housing bonds through the state. SAHA had received initial permission to issue the bonds, but the agency either couldn’t find a construction lender, or found one that backed out, and the state’s 180-day deadline came and went. Last Thursday, Robles and her team asked the SAHA board for another “inducement” document, which is required in order for SAHA to restart the process of procuring the bonds.
SAHA declined multiple interview requests for this update.
In a brief interview Monday, McDaniel said he hopes construction will start the first week of December.
According to the project’s pro forma, or financial document, St. John’s Square is expected to yield $594,012 after the first year of operation, and a cumulative net cash flow of $15.5 million after 15 years. The partnership split in terms of profit is unclear.
SAHA’s critics say it’s abandoning its mission to provide roofs over the heads of San Antonio’s most vulnerable by partnering with for-profit developers, like McDaniel, who build market-rate—or just below that—housing. Conversely, SAHA contends its recent strategy to partner with private developers does achieve those goals of more affordable housing. Its partnerships with private developers is producing more below market-rate housing than the agency could build alone, and the revenues will subsidize more deeply affordable housing down the road, rehab existing affordable housing stock, and reinforce SAHA’s social services programs, the agency says. We’ll explore this incredibly complex strategy in the near future. For now, continue for more details on St. John’s Square.
St. John’s Square info
» Address: 410 E. Nueva St.
» Development partnership: Weal Development LLC, Dennis McDaniel (Austin); Campbell and Co., Duane and Tiffany Campbell (Southlake); San Antonio Housing Authority.
» Property owner: St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church; 99-year ground lease with partnership.
» Occupancy: N/A
» Rent or Buy: Rent
» Height: 8 stories
» Land size: 1.3 acres
» Total units: 253
» Market rate: 200
» 80% AMI: N/A
» 70% AMI: N/A
» 60% AMI: N/A
» 50% AMI: 53 (50 HUD Moving to Work program)
» 40% AMI: N/A
» 30% AMI: N/A
» Student Units: N/A
» Section 8: Unknown
» Retail (s.f.): 6,000 square feet
» Office (s.f.): N/A
» Parking: 360-space garage
» Construction start date: Unknown
» End date: Unknown
» Architect: Mark Odom Studio (Austin)
» General contractor: Cadence McShane Construction Company (Addison)
» Cost: $65 million
» Investor: Affordable Housing Partners Inc. (Berkshire Hathaway Group of Companies), $4.3 million in 4% low-income housing tax credits (see federal incentives below)
» Financing: Unknown
» San Antonio Incentives: $924,305 from Center City Housing Incentive Policy (View agreement)
» SAWS Fee Waivers: $540,000
» City Fee Waivers: $84,305
» City Loans: $300,000 forgivable loan (for retail build-out)
» Est. City Property Tax Rebate: N/A
» Bexar County Incentives: N/A
» Texas incentives: Seeking $60 million in tax-exempt bonds from state for Las Varas Public Facility Corp. (aka SAHA)
» Federal incentives: $4.4 million (over 10 years) in 4% low-income housing tax credits purchased by Affordable Housing Partners Inc. (Berkshire Hathaway Group of Companies)
» Other: N/A
» Return on investment: Undisclosed
» Editor’s note: This data was pulled from the St. John’s Square’s incentives application packet, which you can view here. Some of them may have changed. Multiple interview requests to SAHA were either denied or unreturned. SAHA asked the Heron to submit questions via email, but we contend that deals like these are too complex to understand through correspondence. Also, we are still analyzing the application packet for more insights into how these deals come together. We’ll update this profile accordingly.
Feb. 5, 2020
The design for St. John’s Square received approval from the Historic and Design Review Commission (HDRC), under the condition the architect, Mark Odom Studio of Austin, work on lessening the contrast color-wise between the base and the body. After the vote, Mari Michael Glassell, studio director at Mark Odom Studio, said construction is expected to begin in May and take 22 months to complete.
Aug. 22, 2019
City Council unanimously backs the McDaniel-SAHA partnership and its pursuit of 4% low-income housing tax credits. At the City Council meeting, we also learn the project’s price: $65 million. Read more.
March 20, 2019
Without discussion, the Historic and Design Review Commission (HDRC) grants approval to the St. John’s Square project. New details emerge: 50 units—or 20% of the 251 total units—will be reserved for people who make 50% of the area median income. The rest are presumably market-rate. Read more.
Aug. 2, 2018
In the first public discussion of St. John’s Square, the San Antonio Housing Authority board of commissioners votes to pursue 4% low-income housing tax credits for the project. The basic figures—eight-story development, 250 apartments, upwards of $50 million to build—are released. The Law Offices of Nicholas & Barrera, the only standing structure on the lot, which sits on the corner of South Presa and East Nueva streets, will not be demolished.
McDaniels signs 99-year lease with St. John’s Lutheran Church on the property at 410 E. Nueva St. As part of the agreement, the church will receive some of the parking spaces.
After Steel House Lofts becomes a for-sale property, SAHA President and CEO David Nisivoccia purchases a unit and soon meets McDaniel. Nisivoccia pitched the idea of a partnership between SAHA and McDaniels’ company Weal Development. SAHA’s involvement would bring affordability, i.e. workforce housing, to the project.
Austin developer Dennis McDaniel meets Oliver Gunnels, who manages the parking lot at the southeast corner of East Nueva and South St. Mary’s streets, owned by St. John’s Lutheran Church. Gunnels connected McDaniel with church officials who asked him to build a parking garage on the lot. McDaniel proposed adding apartments to the garage concept. Read more.
2020 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.
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