By CASSIE MCKEE, Four Points News
A Four Points property owner has been gathering signatures to protest a rezoning request from Foundation Communities to build a new 124-unit affordable housing apartment complex at 11108 Zimmerman Ln. The land is near Rudy’s Country Store and BBQ and currently zoned as single-family residential.
Foundation Communities is an Austin-based, non-profit organization that currently manages 10 affordable housing communities throughout Austin. The communities are for individuals and families with low to moderate incomes— 50 to 80 percent of Austin median family income. Foundation Communities has one apartment complex under construction in downtown Austin and another planned in South Austin. If approved, the Four Points property would be their first in northwest Austin.
Four Points Against More Traffic
River Place resident Marc Chase has started an effort called Four Points Against More Traffic. He has collected 350 signatures from local residents who are opposed to the rezoning request and is hoping to get at least 1,000 signatures. The zoning case is set to go before the Austin City Council in May.
Chase, who owns a development company called Kailey Development Partners LP, admits that he has a financial stake in the issue — he owns nine single-family lots across from the proposed site on Zimmerman Lane, which he hopes to develop and sell. Four of the nine homes are completed and are all listed for at least $400,000. But Chase says his concerns with the project are bigger than his own personal interests.
“This particular project would add an additional 124 units, along with additional vehicles, pulling out onto RM 620 without any traffic signal light,” Chase said. “Zimmerman Lane is very narrow and cannot accommodate the additional traffic, not to mention the vehicles that will have to travel up and down this roadway during construction.”
Chase also has concerns about the overcrowding of Four Points schools.
“More and more apartments have been popping up in a very congested area of Four Points,” he said. “There’s no plan for how to relieve this pressure.”
Chase is giving his email if people want to follow up: Marcchase00@gmail.com. He plans to have the petition and other information up on the group’s website later this week: FourPointsAgainstMoreTraffic.com
Jennifer Hicks, director of housing finance for Foundation Communities, said there are no affordable housing options available for the many northwest Austin residents who work in the retail and service industries.
“The reason we absolutely love the (Four Points) area is it’s a high opportunity area,” Hicks said. “It has excellent schools, wonderful amenities and wonderful employment opportunities. It has zero affordable housing. In the Four Points area, there are so many service jobs and retail jobs. It would allow families to live closer to where they work. We’re super excited about it because of all the opportunities it would give to families working in that area.”
She said because public transportation is so important for their residents, they would work with Capital Metro to have an additional bus stop put in at the property. They would also work with the school district to have a bus stop at the property and with the city to improve sidewalk access.
“That’s a priority for all our new projects,” Hicks said. “We try to make improvements to the sidewalks for connectivity. If it doesn’t exist, we work with the city to provide sidewalks.”
Each Foundation Communities property offers residents adult education classes such as financial education and homebuyer courses, matched savings accounts, financial coaching, finding money for education, self-employed/small business support and free income tax preparation. The properties also run a learning center and an after-school and summer school programs which uses a curriculum based on that used by Austin ISD.
“Our primary focus of the overall program is providing after-school programs for the children so after school they have a safe place to learn and play,” she said.
To live at a Foundation Communities property, families must meet specific income guidelines (vary by location), pass criminal and credit checks and have a good rental history.
Hicks said funding for the project would primarily come from housing tax credits issued by Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs. It is a competitive application and the project awards will be announced by August 1. She said the zoning change is a condition of receiving the funding.
While the proposed property is not located in close enough proximity to any homeowners association to require formal notice or approval, she said Foundation Communities is happy to meet with residents of the surrounding HOAs.
“We are totally open to meeting with any concerned neighborhood members,” Hicks said. “We like taking members on tours of other properties so they can see value of our product and services we provide.”
Hicks said any interested residents can call her directly at (512) 610-4025.