Developer fails to woo city council

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By Miles Smith
Editor / POST-REGISTER

A real estate developer’s efforts to qualify for tax credits that would facilitate the construction of a restricted apartment community geared toward middle-income families were stymied Thursday night.
Lockhart City Council members voted 7-0 to deny a request for a resolution that would waive up to $250 in building fees for Bouldin Communities to develop affordable housing at one of two properties near SH 130 and Borchert Drive.
Representatives from Bouldin and consulting firm ARX Advantage asked council for a resolution waiving the fees so that they could show city support when applying for federal tax credits they said would have enabled them to designate a greater percentage of the units in the complex as “affordable.”
Preliminary rents on the “mixed-income” complex would have been based on a percentage of a baseline annual household income of $81,000. Preliminary monthly rent estimates were between $458-$1,270. While up to 80 units designated as “affordable” could have been built, Bouldin representatives said the actual number was closer to 50-54.
City manager Vance Rodgers visited Bouldin communities in Taylor and said in his report that “buildings and grounds appeared to be well maintained.”
Bouldin asked council to pass resolutions to waive building fees for properties at SH 130 and Borchert Drive and at Borchert Drive at City Line .
The representatives said they were asking for resolutions on multiple sites so that they could get approved for tax credits on either, and proceed on whichever one would be easiest to build upon.
The request received a chilly reception from Councilmember Jeffry Michelson, who broke the ice by making a motion to deny the request for a resolution, saying the presentation was too vague with not enough planning.
“I’ll just say this: I’ve got a real problem with the fact (you’re looking for resolutions for two prospective sites),” Michelson said. “I understand you’re in a hurry, but to me, it would have been better if you’d picked one than asked for two. “
During a work session that preceded the regular meeting, Michelson had also expressed his disdain for the request for two resolutions on different sites.
“It doesn’t look good for us to approve everyone just to approve everyone,” he said.
Mayor Pro Tem Angie Gonzalez-Sanchez agreed with Michelson, despite a scarcity of available rentals with three-digit rent in Lockhart.
“Lockhart is in need of housing — it’s a given; it’s a fact,” said Gonazles-Sanchez. “I’m sure what you’re wanting to bring would meet our needs, but I’m also voting in favor of denial.
“Usually, we see more in these presentations. More planning. More blueprints. I know Vance went out there to visit, but we need to see more in a presentation from you when you’re approaching council. I know we’re in need of more housing, but I can’t approve this.”
Mayor Lew White agreed.
“I just don’t feel like we know enough about you to support this,” White said. “There needs to be a lot more for us to review for us to hang our hat on this project.”
ARX Advantage representative Robbie Meyer asked council to remove the item from the agenda and give the team until the next meeting to bring the council more information to consider.
“If you can do that, then why didn’t you do it the first time?” Michelson asked.
At the time of this report, it was unknown whether Bouldin representatives would present their case again at a February city council meeting. A call on Friday to Bouldin co-founder Jeff Markey was answered, but he declined to comment by phone. A written response to questions was requested, but none was turned in before deadline.
In other action, council:
— Voted unanimously to let Friends of the Lockhart Cemeteries proceed with construction of a wall of remembrance and eternal fountain at the Lockhart Memorial Cemetery.
— Approved a contract that puts recruiting firm Strategic Government Resources (SGR) officially on the clock in the search for a new city manager to replace Rodgers, who has indicated he will retire this summer. SGR’s contract allows for a base fee of $18,500 with expenses not to exceed $9,500. The next step in the search: for SGR to meet with city leaders to develop a profile that details exactly what the city is looking for in its top administrative role.

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