Houston: Affordable Housing Project Fulton Lofts Overcomes Neighborhood Opposition
by Adolfo Pesquera
Houston (Harris County) – The Planning Commission approved a street waiver variance for an affordable workforce housing project, despite opposition from the neighborhood.
The project, Fulton Lofts, was before the commission May 10 to avoid an ordinance requirement to extend Dunlop Street on its development with a road extension or cul-de-sac because it was previously platted as a “Business Reserve” in the Lindale Oaks subdivision of Lindale Park in the Near Northside.
“Without the approval of the variance to not require the extension of Dunlop Street, this project cannot happen,” the staff report to commissioners stated.
The 1.46-acre site is on a lot that has been vacant for many years. It is at the southwest corner of Fulton Street and Robert Lee Road and is directly adjacent to a light rail line.
“The Fulton Lofts project is … proposed to be built across the street from the Graceland Station on the North Corridor on Fulton Street … which will greatly improve the walkability of both Fulton Street and Robert Lee Road,” staff said.
The future site of Fulton Lofts (vacant lot to the right) is at the corner of Robert Lee Road and Fulton Street and adjacent to a light rail line. Image: Google Maps.
The developers, Fulton Lofts Advisors LLC and Mark-Dana Corporation, plan an 80-unit affordable housing multifamily community and they have a 9 percent Housing Tax Credit financing application pending with the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs.
The ground floor will include an amenity center, a swimming pool and parking structure with three stories of apartment units stacked above.
According to the city staff report, “Ninety-Five percent of the units will serve families that make 60 percent of the area median income or less and the rents will be set at affordable levels as required under the Housing Tax Credit program. Each apartment unit will include nine foot ceilings, a full energy star appliance package, washer/dryer hookups and all living rooms and bedrooms will have ceiling fans. All units will have balconies. The buildings will be designed to maximize energy efficiency. The design will feature 100% masonry exterior (brick, cultured stone, stucco and/or hardi), architectural roofing, smoke detectors, and wiring for phone, cable and data service (CAT5e).
Level 1 of the site plan for Fulton Lofts. Courtesy of Fulton Lofts Advisors LLC.
“Great improvements will be made not only to the 15-foot Pedestrian Realm, but also to the other surrounding rights-of-way. Enhanced landscaping, 6-foot-wide concrete sidewalks, lighting, park benches and other amenities will be an added benefit to the proposed apartments, as well as, the public, as this area begins to transition with the new development in the area. ”
Several neighbors and representatives of the neighborhood association objected, not to the apartment project, but to the waiver, claiming the traffic was already bad and a reliever street was much needed. There were also a few who spoke in favor of the project.
Adolfo Pesquera (Reporter/Editor) is a veteran news journalist. He has worked for Hearst Corp., American Lawyer Media, News Corp and Freedom Communications. His work has been published in newspapers and magazines across the USA. He is a journalism graduate of UT-RGV. He writes, edits and creates digital pages for VBX.