Feature Photo (above): Signage of Alida in the 500 block of El Paso Street. Image: Google Streets.
by Adolfo Pesquera
San Antonio (Bexar County) — OUR SA, a city urban development office, has invited developers for a Tuesday 2 p.m. pre-submittal conference on a Request For Proposals for a multifamily affordable housing project to be located on the near West Side.
The RFP is a result of the 2017 vote-approved $20 million Neighborhood Improvements Bond Program. Bond financing from the program is being used to leverage private investment in run-down neighborhoods across the city.
The location for this project is predominantly early 20th century industrial. The street boundaries are South Frio Street, South Medina Street, and running east-west are San Fernando and El Paso Streets. The .36-acre tract faces Frio Street and there would appear to be very little residential in the area but that is changing.
The project site is highlighted in red. Image: Google Earth.
Milmo Group, a local real estate investor/developer, has its corporate offices in the 500 block of El Paso, across the street from the Alida–a funky and popular restaurant that regularly draws art shows, car shows, business meetings; it’s a happening place.
Several years ago, Milmo Group invested in 710 Medina St., a 1940s two-story brick commercial building with a spacious basement level. The renovation resulted in J.C. Dielmann Lofts, a luxury apartment building that is located on the back side of the city block where OUR SA wants a developer to jump in.
The J.C. Dielmann Lofts on Medina Street. Image: Google Streets.
According to county land records, the lot in question is owned by a company from Richmond, Texas–Elmer’s Icehouse LLC. This is the same company that owns the circa 1932 brick building that is leased to Alida.
The RFP, however, states that the “seller” requires that the successful proposer obtain a Certificate of Occupancy within two years and the building permit for construction within three months of the transfer of property. Since the “seller” should be a reference to the city, it’s clear there is some arrangement in the works between the city and Elmer’s Icehouse.
The city’s role in the project will be limited to:
- Acquisition and disposition of property
- Site improvements
- Right-of-way (ROW) improvements (streets, sidewalks) contiguous to housing site
- Extension and/or expansion of utilities
- Remediation of hazards, such as asbestos, lead-based paint or other environmental concerns
The city is expecting a proposal that will ensure that 50 percent of the housing units will go to tenants earning 80 percent or less of the area median income for the San Antonio Metropolitan Statistical Area, and the rents must stay at that level for “not less than 30 years.”
The deadline for submittal of proposals is April 12. The Neighborhood Improvements Advisory Committee will hear a closed staff presentation on the proposals April 30.
OUR SA (Office of Urban Redevelopment) will make its recommendation, based in part on the advisory committee’s opinion, to City Council May 8 and the council is scheduled to vote to approve or reject the preferred candidate June 6.
Buildings in this Near West Side neighborhood are mostly from the early 20th century period. Image: Google Streets.