San Marcos: Planned Apartments Could Include Affordable Units
Featured Photo (above): The Reserves at San Marcos apartment complex is proposed for the western edge of Texas Highway 123 near San Marcos High School. See the stadium in the background. Image: Google Streets
By Edmond Ortiz
San Marcos (Hays County)–A Dallas-area developer plans to break ground early in 2020 on a new affordable multi-family housing project in south San Marcos.
The Reserves at San Marcos would be located on a vacant 21-acre tract on the western side of Texas Highway 123 (Guadalupe Street) between Rattler Road and Monterrey Oak. The new development would be next to San Marcos High School and close to Bowie Elementary School.
Target Builders LLC is the developer for the estimated $55.6 million project. Target Builders acquired the land from Dallas-based Cottonwood Creek JDR Ltd., a limited partnership whose ownership consists of the Raymond James Tax Credit Fund and Dallas-based 92110 Monterrey Oak LLC. The tax credit fund supports affordable housing projects nationwide.
The project will involve 372 units, 298 of which would be reserved for tenants earning 51-60% of the area median income (AMI). The rest of the units would be market rate. Twenty-eight total units would be accessible to disabled residents.
There will be one- to four-bedroom units available. Apartments will range in size from 650-1,350 square feet. If all works out, construction could begin as early as January 2020 and last between 18 and 24 months, project representatives have said.
Despite its proximity to San Marcos High School, the planned Reserves at San Marcos is at least 1 mile from the nearest mass transit stop or grocery store, a major concern for some local officials. Image: City of San Marcos
The development team earlier this year applied for a 4% low income tax credit through the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs.
The City Council voted 4-3 on Sept. 3 to pass a resolution in support of the application. Many council members lauded the effort to bring more affordable multi-family development into town.
The vote to pass the resolution came later in the meeting. Earlier in the evening, council voted to postpone the matter until Sept. 17 so that the developer could commit to putting in a shuttle service for residents.
Some council members expressed concern that, for the time being, the new development would not be closer to full service grocery store and other shopping options, or to existing mass transit connections in the area.
The nearest store with various options is a Dollar General, but as Councilwoman Melissa Derrick put it, that store is not ideal for residents who are seeking fresh food during a short trip from the apartments.
Pam Madere, a partner at Jackson Walker, said the apartment complex will have on site a computer room, playgrounds, as well as a food pantry, community garden and nutrition courses for residents “so that the families and the people who live there are going to learn how to grow your own food and how you take it to the next step.”
“I just don’t think I can support a development that’s in an area where you can’t get food,” Derrick replied.
Madere also told the council the developer would like to see a stop for the local CARTS transit system in the immediate vicinity of The Reserves, if not at the apartment complex itself.
City officials have said a long-range mass transit plan does call for setting up a CARTS stop close to The Reserves, but not until 2021 or 2022. Juli Gonzalez of BETCO said the developer was originally hesitant about providing an express service for tenants because it was cost-prohibitive.
After the council voted to postpone the resolution, project representatives regrouped during the meeting and agreed to provide a shuttle service two or three times a week, on rotating days in place of a CARTS system stop around the apartment site.
They asked the council to reconsider the resolution. Members such as Lisa Prewitt said the shuttle idea was fine, but that two or three days a week are not enough to serve a community of more than 300 residents.
But other members such as Mayor Jane Hughson saw more positives than negatives associated with the project.
“(The developers) are bringing housing at a price that some folks can afford. I hope people who are looking to live there will understand it’s not on a bus route at this particular time and that it’s not within walking distance to a grocery store,” she added.
The council managed to convince the project representatives to include in the resolution language committing the developer to have shuttle service available at least three times a week to get residents to grocery and basic medical services.
Edmond Ortiz is a lifelong San Antonian and a 20-plus-year veteran in local journalism, He previously worked full-time at the San Antonio Express-News, and has been freelancing for outlets such as the Rivard Report.