Austin: 120-Unit Affordable Housing Development Planned in North Austin
Feature Illustration (above): A preliminary rendering of the Espero Austin at Rutland community. Image: Vecino Group
By Edmond Ortiz
Austin (Travis County)–The city has endorsed a developer’s application for state housing tax credits for an affordable apartment community with 120 units in North Austin.
Springfield, Missouri-based Vecino Group is working with local nonprofit Caritas of Austin to construct Espero Austin at Rutland, a supportive housing development for homeless people with disabilities.
Located on a 2.19-acre tract at 1934 Rutland Drive, the project proposes a multifamily complex with all efficiency apartments measuring 474 square feet each.
The location is a commercial zone that functions like a buffer between single-family housing to the east and an industrial district along Metric Boulevard.
A 120-unit affordable apartment complex will replace a small retail strip center at 1934 Rutland Drive. Image: Google Streets
Twelve of the units will be accessible to tenants with mobility impairments. Another three units will be accessible to tenants with sensory impairments.
There is no information about a construction schedule or delivery method, however, the estimated hard construction cost is reportedly $12.7 million.
VBX members may track this project using ID number: 2020-264E.
City Council in February passed a resolution backing the developer’s application for competitive 9% housing tax credits.
Twenty-four of the apartments will be reserved for tenants earning up to 30% of median family income (MFI); the remaining units will be reserved for tenants earning 31%-50% of MFI. Rents will range $497-$828. All bills paid by the landlord.
Parking will include five ADA-accessible spaces. Preliminary architectural drawings show three multi-story buildings connected by an interior courtyard.
Community amenities include laundry rooms, bicycle parking, a fitness center, a community dining room, security cameras, service provider offices, secured entry, recycling service and storage. There also will be a detention pond.
The new apartment complex will replace a 26,340-square-foot retail strip on site. The developer will offer relocation assistance to current retail tenants.
Vecino Group specializes in supportive/affordable housing and student housing in more than one dozen states. Espero Austin and a similar project, Espero Austin at West 24th Street, would be Vecino’s first Texas developments.
A site plan for Espero Austin at Rutland. Note it says 135 units, but the formal housing tax credit application is for 120 units. Image: Vecino Group
According to one project document, the developer explains how tenants will be able to access “ample amenities provided by the neighborhood while paying rents that are a fraction of the surrounding market.”The poverty rate is just below 20% in the census tract surrounding the project site. Developer representatives added that high-quality affordable housing in the neighborhood is non-existent.
“The location of Espero Austin at Rutland is ideal for supportive housing, with easy transit access to medical care and employment,” the document stated.
Caritas staff members engage clients on the street so they can move as quickly as possible straight to permanent housing.
Edmond Ortiz is a lifelong San Antonian and a 20-plus-year veteran in local journalism, He previously worked full-time at the San Antonio Express-News, and has been freelancing for outlets such as the Rivard Report.