San Antonio: ‘Ideal’ Affordable NW Side Multifamily Project Stalled at Zoning Commission
Feature Illustration: Aerial view of the proposed PEDCOR multifamily project site and surrounding area. Image: Google Earth.
by Adolfo Pesquera
San Antonio (Bexar County) — A proposed 216-unit apartment development described by its promoters as an ideal fit for a northwest side location received fierce opposition from residents and could not get the votes to proceed at Tuesday’s Zoning Commission meeting.
Pedcor Investments, an Indiana-based company, is proposing the development as a mixed-income, affordable housing community that would stand on what is presently a heavily wooded 13.14-acre site in the 11000 block of Bandera Road. The property backs up to the Braun Oaks single family neighborhood.
Jean Latsha, PEDCOR vice president of development.
Jean Latsha, Pedcor’s vice president of development, told commissioners she had been in talks with the Braun Oaks and Stonefield homeowner associations since late June. Although the residents generally remain opposed, Latsha said Pedcor is offering to several restrictive covenants that respond to specific objections.
The proposed covenants include 50-foot buffers along the west and south property lines where the land abuts single family residences, and a 75-foot setback for any building nearest the neighboring residences. The buffers would ensure the residents would continue to have a green belt nature setting behind their properties.
Ken Brown of Brown & Ortiz, Pedcor’s legal representative, noted that size of the buffer green belts is possible because a 216-unit, garden style apartment complex such as the one proposed just needs 10 acres. That gives Pedcor more than 3 acres to work with. Brown added that Pedcor has no vested rights to the land and must comply with the city’s tree preservation ordinance.
The configuration of the property limits access to it to one entrance from Bandera Road. Tenant traffic would not go into the neighborhood. Brown added that with commercial development along Bandera, an apartment community would be an ideal transitional type development to put between other commercial on Bandera and the neighborhoods to the west.
The proposed development would involve nine garden style multifamily buildings with 24 units per building and each building having a height of three stories, Latsha said. The composition of the units would be 96 one-bedrooms units; 96 two-bedroom units; and 24 three-bedroom units.
Pedcor will be applying for 4% low income housing tax credits from the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs, she added. The developer’s plan is to market the community as workforce housing and offer it to tenants that show earnings of form 30% to 70% of the area median income.
Conceptual site plan for the PEDCOR apartment development in the 11000 block of Bandera Road.
Latsha found herself having to argue that there was a need for such workforce housing in the area, noting that none of the other apartment complexes nearby offered lower rents; this would be the only such development of its kind in this or the neighboring census tracts.
She said the complex would be highly amenitized, with a fitness center, laundry center, playground, pool dog park and more–“everything we can do to keep our residents in this community.”
Pedcor’s request was to change the zoning from Residential Single Family (R-6) to Limited Density Multifamily (18 units/acre). In reality, the density would be 16 units per acre, with the buffer and setback concessions.
Residents were adamant that the land should remain undeveloped or become single family residential. Brown observed that the property has been zoned single family residential for 27 years and has never drawn interest from homebuilders. He predicted it would eventually become a commercial development if not built out as multifamily, and thus generate even more traffic–one of the many objections raised by the residents.
Nevertheless, the district appointed commissioner, Robert Sipes, made a motion to deny the request. His motion failed for lack of a two-thirds majority but no one offered a motion to approve. This forces the case to return to the Zoning Commission in two weeks for reconsideration. Development Services Department staff recommended approval.
Petro-Steel Development Inc. is the owner. Pedcor has the property under contract through an affiliate company.
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.