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Mixed Income Lofts Expand Possibilities For Downtown San Antonio Hopefuls

Brian Kirkpatrick | Texas Public Radio
A groundbreaking was held for the Museum Reach Lofts on Wednesday, May 22.

Mixed income lofts are even more popular in downtown San Antonio as affordability weighs on many renters.

A groundbreaking was held on Wednesday for the Museum Reach Lofts in the shadow of The Pearl.

The Alamo Community Group is behind the development of the lofts in the 400 block of West Jones.  The 95 units are expected to be in high demand for one of the most popular business and entertainment districts in the city, said Jennifer Gonzalez, executive director of the Alamo Community Group, a non-profit that focuses on developing affordable housing.

Gonzalez said the units are priced to meet a wide range of average salaries in the neighborhood.

“We’re targeting families who are at 30% of the area median income, you know all the way up to slightly above market or slightly above 80%,” she said.

She said it is hard to build appealing and affordable housing like the Museum Reach Lofts downtown without the help of builders, lenders and government incentives.  

Credit GRG Architecture
A February 2019 rendering of the Museum Reach Lofts.

“This is certainly starting to enter the game,” Gonzalez said. “This is the first one. This is the first of its kind.  It isn’t easy by any means at all and it does take a lot of willing folks to come to the table.”

Assistant San Antonio City Manager Lori Houston agrees with Gonzalez that booming downtown is a hard place for affordable housing to take root.  She said most available downtown spaces are oddly shaped, highly zoned, and prized by hotel chains, which deters a lot of developers.

Houston said that is why the city and state offer incentives to developments that set aside space for lower income residents. Incentives from the city include those from City Center Housing.

“The Museum Reach Lofts received $750,000 dollars of incentives of that program,” Houston said. “But also, the tax increment reinvestment zone for this area, also another $1.3 million offset costs for infrastructure and then it received a 9% tax credit through the state of Texas.”

Work on the lofts is scheduled to go vertical in July and completion is expected in late 2020.

The mayor’s task force on housing reported last year that the average income in San Antonio is around $49,000 dollars.

The San Antonio Board of Realtors reports the average rent in April in downtown San Antonio was $2,230, while the average price of a home sold in April downtown was $265,000.

The chair of the local board of realtors, Grant Lopez, said for many years downtown was mostly a place for young renters, but now some baby boomers are selling their home in the “burbs” and moving downtown.

He said more people are choosing to move downtown because it is no longer just  a place you take out-of-town guests to the Alamo or the River Walk for dinner.

Lopez said it is a place where people can now live, work, and play.

He said there are more options to buy or rent  downtown, including lofts, apartments, condos, and homes.  He said those increased options should lead to increased competition for buyers and renters and more affordability.

“We could say that most of the options downtown were expensive options, but again that the trend is out there and the need is out there, you’re going to see developers moving in to offer more options in terms of costs to get into those downtown areas,” Lopez said.

Brian Kirkpatrick can be reached at Brian@TPR.org and on Twitter at @TPRBrian.\