Houston: New Hope Housing Puts Second Ward Affordable Housing Project on Drawing Board
Feature Illustration (above): Rendering of NHH Avenue J, a proposed 5-story affordable housing project. Courtesy: New Hope Housing.
UPDATE – 6-26-2019: The Planning Commission did not bring this case to a vote until the June 20 meeting. The issue pending was consideration of a parking capacity variance request. The project site provides 107 vehicle spaces and the requirement by ordinance is 137. Staff recommended approval and the commission accepted the request by unanimous vote.
New Hope, the developer, is awaiting approval of a 4% non-competitive housing tax credit application that was submitted to the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs.
Originally Posted: 4-23-2019
by Adolfo Pesquera
Houston (Harris County) — New Hope Housing is planning a multi-story, 100-unit affordable housing project on a one block tract it has under contract in east Houston’s Second Ward.
The project site is roughly two blocks south of the Turkey Bend of the Buffalo Bayou and bounded by Avenues J and I to the north and south, and Engel and Edgewood streets. The project address is 5220 Avenue J and the project name is New Hope Housing Ave J.
The proposed development will come before the Planning Commission Thursday on a request for off-street parking. By city ordinance, 137 spaces are required for a 100-unit development and New Hope wants to reduce that to 127 spaces. The rationale for reduced parking is that the qualifying low income tenants would not be able to afford more than one vehicle per unit.
Aerial view of the Second Ward neighborhood where NHH proposes a 100-unit apartment building. Image: Google Earth.
“Based on our experience owning and operating the (New Hope Housing) Reed property–which received a parking variance in 2016 for 1:1 ratio of vehicle spaces per dwelling unit–we firmly believe that Avenue J will have more than adequate parking available for the anticipated population,” New Hope states on its application.
“With incomes capped at a maximum of 60% AMI, prospective families/households are expected to earn at or below approximately $35,000 annually. With the average cost of vehicle ownership in the United States at approximately $9,000 annually and rising, it is highly unlikely that residents at this income stratum will have more than one vehicle per unit.”
New Hope claims its tenants generally don’t have the resources to own a vehicle and in the alternative they tend to make more use of biking or public transit. The developer proposed to include 15 bicycle racks (60 bicycle spaces) to replace the 10-vehicle space deficit.
Avenue J is located less than two-tenths of a mile from major METRO bus routes along both Canal Street and Navigation. It is less than a half mile from the METRO light rail.
The proposed structure will have a gross area of 84,300 square feet and stand five stories in height on a city block that has a total area of 1.376 acres. Half of its apartments will be one-bedroom units and the other half will be two-bedroom units. A parking garage will occupy the ground level, sharing space at ground level with a small entryway lobby and lease office.
Ground level site plan of the NHH Avenue J project. Courtesy: New Hope Housing.
“Four stories of residential units are planned above the single floor garage, with indoor and outdoor common use areas for the residents on the elevated level one,” New Hope said.
Avenue J is not yet listed as a future project on the New Hope Housing website. The nonprofit’s latest “On the Drawing Board” development is NHH Dale Carnegie, which was touted as the first affordable housing community to break ground since Hurricane Harvey. The 170-unit complex at Regency Square is scheduled for completion in Fall 2020.
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.