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San Antonio: Towne Twin Drive-In to be Reborn as Permanent Housing Community for Homeless Seniors

Feature Illustration: A collage of the elements and site plan of Towne Twin Village, a planned permanent supportive housing community by HFCC for chronic homeless seniors. Courtesy: HFCC.

Posted: 3-19-2021

by Adolfo Pesquera

San Antonio (Bexar County) — The East Side site of the former Towne Twin Drive-In will soon be reborn as a permanent housing community for homeless seniors.

The Inner City Tax Increment Redevelopment Zone (TIRZ 11) board of directors agreed to assist in the financing of Towne Twin Village at their Friday morning meeting.

The board will provide a $5.4 million grant that is to be paid out over a three-year period to help cover the costs of Phases 1 and 2 of a project that has an estimated total cost of $26,882,301. The payouts are for $3 million this year, $1.4 million in 2022, and $1 million in 2023.

These are reimbursement grants that are paid to compensate the developer, a non-profit organization, for the cost of public infrastructure and eligible project costs.

San Antonio-based Housing First Community Coalition Inc. (HFCC) applied for the loan July 2020 as part of its ongoing efforts to patch together enough funds to accomplish their goal. The loan cannot close until after City Council approves the TIRZ board’s action.

The project site, 4701 Dietrich Road, was home to the Towne Twin Drive-In cinema park from 1957-1983. HFCC board member Chris Plauche said the development group opted to name the project after the old drive-in to honor its history.

Phase 1 of the Towne Twin Village development is within the red borderline.

The project consists of the construction of a 10,000-square-foot community center, chapel/event center, community kitchens and picnic areas, seven laundry facilities, a community garden and dog park.

There will be a variety of housing options. These include a fully equipped recreational vehicle park; a large cluster of tiny houses that average 500 square feet each, with kitchenettes and ADA compliant bathrooms; and apartment buildings. In total, the community will be home to 205 people with a history of chronic homelessness.

Construction is expected to begin for Phase 1 by June 2021. Both phases are to be completed by Dec. 31, 2024, according to the TIRZ funding agreement.

The overall site plan for HFCC’s Towne Twin Village.

Construction manager Jack Dysart of Dysart Consulting LLC, told the board that he came aboard the project a little over a year ago, adding that the final construction drawings for the final site work are complete.

Phase 1, an $11.8 million project, also includes the infrastructure for the RV park, amphitheater and the first 42 tiny homes.

VBX first described this project in an October 2019 article. At that time, RVK was the architect and the concept for this 17.3-acre site was slightly different. See VBX Project ID: 2019-7343

There are 10 fewer units in the new design and the configuration of buildings changed. Chesney Morales Partners Inc. is now the architect firm.

Plauche said the concept for a permanent supportive housing community for the homeless began as an organized effort in 2008 during talks with several organizations; these included SARAH (San Antonio Regional Alliance for the Homeless), Gordon Hartman, and Local Initiatives Support Corporation.

San Antonio is the only major city in United States without a single permanent supportive housing concept in operation, Plauche said. In 2017, HFCC and its partners began the systematic search to locate and purchase real estate for their project and closed on the Towne Twin site in 2019.

3D concept rendering of Towne Twin Village, by Chesney Morales Partners Inc.

Permanent supportive housing does more than provide permanent affordable lease housing to the homeless. There is intensive on-site case management with professional social service providers.

In the case of this project, this would include SAMMinistries, Center for Health Care Services, Incarnate Word School of Osteopathic Medicine and Street Medicine, the city’s Metropolitan Health, San Antonio AIDS Foundation, Wellcare, and volunteers.

The project schedule calls for Phase 1 facilities to open by the end of June 2022. Meanwhile, fundraising will continue for Phase 2, which should reach the construction phase mid-summer 2022.

Phase 2 comes with a cost of $16,004,853, of which about $7.5 million is for actual construction. The funds are projected to come from Bexar County, San Antonio bond funds, the state’s 4% tax credit equity program (TDHCA), a federal home loan bank, the National Housing Trust, developer incentives, and HFCC equity.

Phase 2 structures will include additional site work, up to four apartment buildings, the Catholic Worker Community Center, offices for administration, two laundry rooms with public restrooms, a community kitchen, 58 more tiny homes, five gazebos, and a maintenance structure.

The Phase 2 Budget for Towne Twin Village by HFCC.