Affordable apartment complex gets council’s OK
By Miles Smith
Editor / POST-REGISTER
The second time was a charm for Bouldin Communities, which now has the city’s support to develop an affordable housing apartment complex near the tollway intended to serve middle income families.
The Lockhart City Council on Tuesday voted 5-2 to grant the Austin developer a resolution committing financial support by waiving $250 in building fees, a component its representatives said it needed to have a chance at successfully securing federal tax credits needed to offer below-market-rate rent to more than 90 percent of the complex’s eventual occupants.
Council unanimously rejected Bouldin Companies on its first attempt to secure funding, saying that it hadn’t prepared a plan that was thorough or comprehensive enough for its liking.
Bouldin responded to some of those concerns in its second presentation, bringing with it detailed site plans and a timeline for construction of the 48-unit project, which would be ready in about 18 months from now if the firm’s March 1 application for credits is successful.
Approximately 40 of the units would be made available at a below-market rate ranging from $458-$1,270 depending on income. If constructed, the complex will be located at Borchert Lane and SH 130.
“Thank you for coming back and responding to our concerns about the first presentation,” said Councilmember John Castillo, who seconded a motion to grant the resolution showing support. “I feel much better about this one.”
Councilmember Jeffry Michelson and Mayor Lew White voted against showing support for the project.
White said the project included a disproportionate amount of below-market units for what the community needed. Under the plan, no household earning greater than approximately $56,000 would qualify for an affordable unit.
“We are trying to upgrade the average median income here, and we need a place for (those people) to live as well,” White said. “I sure would like to see you consider upping the number of market rate units in the complex. As you have it, a policeman or teacher who is married would be well out of your price range. These are people who are having to live in Kyle and San Marcos because there are not enough places for them to rent here. In the last 15 years, I think we’ve had one market rate complex constructed.
“We don’t have just a need for low-income housing.”
Michelson said the plan was still too unformed for his liking, noting that Bouldin had first said it was planning “up to 80 units” before changing that number to 50 and then 48.
“This is a decision that y’all have to make,” Michelson said. “We can’t make it for you.”
Officials with Bouldin said the changing number had to do with tax cuts that decreased the value of the tax credits from nearly 90 cents to roughly 83 cents. The tax credit value has an impact on interest rates, they said, which can drive the cost per unit of the project upward.
In other action, the Lockhart City Council unanimously approved an agreement with the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority that provides a long-term treated water supply up to 3,000-acre feet for Lockhart through 2058. Under the plan, the water supply coming from the Carrizo Aquifer will be available beginning in 2023.
In a previous council meeting in January, City Manager Vance Rodgers said rates could begin increasing as early as Oct. 1, 2018 so that the city could begin to pay its part for the project.
District fees and groundwater lease payments will begin in January 2019.
The water will be sourced from groundwater that will come from 42,000 acres of land in Gonzales and Caldwell counties.
The city currently has an agreement with Luling that runs through 2030.