By KIM ESTES, Four Points News
The leaders of two initiatives that have opposed the Cardinal Point affordable housing project — which was approved by Austin City Council on Feb. 12 — plan to take more steps in their opposition.
Stop Cardinal Point supporters will continue voicing opposition to the proposed 125-affordable housing units to be built off of Four Points Drive. Officials will make their rounds and voice their dissention with state officials who are considering the project for tax credits.
Almost 900 people have signed a petition posted on the stopcardinalpoint.com website since it launched in mid January.
On another front, Marc Chase, a River Place resident, local developer and organizer of Four Points Against More Traffic said a group of citizens is contemplating legal recourse. A decision is expected in a week or two.
Cardinal Point is a proposed affordable housing apartment complex to be located near Four Points Centre. It is proffered by Foundation Communities Inc., a nonprofit developer operating 18 communities in Austin and north Texas.
The Austin City Council recently approved a $1.9 million loan to Foundation Communities for Cardinal Point. The loan is conditioned on the aforementioned tax credit award from the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs.
TDHCA will host a public hearing in April to receive public comment on the proposal, along with additional, similar projects. A decision is not expected until July or later.
Walter Moreau, executive director of Foundation Communities, said in an earlier report, “(Funding) is not a guarantee but we think our odds are good.”
Challengers, however, said working against those odds may be in the best interest of Four Points.
Jay Wiley, River Place resident and organizer of Stop Cardinal Point said, “This is not an attack on Foundation Communities. Foundation Communities has developments all around Austin and they are a good fit. But a development like Cardinal Point in Four Points is an anomaly. There’s no public transportation, inadequate roadway capacity and no sidewalks.”
“Shoehorning more people into Four Points is not a good idea,” he added.
Like Wiley, Chase with Four Points Against More Traffic cited traffic congestion and added, “With zero mass transportation, zero sidewalks and a minimal demand for minimum wage jobs, where is the guarantee that this is a good fit for Four Points?”
Although Foundation Communities has no specific study, Moreau said there are 290 lower wage jobs in Four Points, including Target, H-E-B and other retail shops, stores and restaurants.
He said, “There are a lot of working class jobs in the Four Points area, and lots of employers struggling to find staff. It’s really an opportunity to create something affordable and be part of the Four Points community.”
Moreau said his information is “anecdotal”.
Wiley would like a study. “We don’t know the impact it will have on traffic, on our schools and on public safety,” he said.
The city council vote on Feb. 12 was 9-1 for the loan, with District 6 representative, Don Zimmerman, being the one “no” vote. Council approval permitted Foundation Communities’ application to advance to TDHCA, where it is due at the end of February.
Chase said, “The fact that this proposal just came about less then a month ago to the public and (is) already voted on by council is a clear signal how Foundation Communities operates and ignores those who live in and around our neighborhoods.
“Why do concerned residents not have the right to ask questions and verify the answers,” Chase asked.
“I believe Four Points can and has adapted to the ever changing environment and will show compassion and respect to any and all neighbors,” he added. “However, when Foundation Communities and the city council ignore our district representative and a majority of citizens, they must expect some resistance.”
Wiley also reported that half a dozen residents were at the city council meeting when the project loan was approved on Feb. 12, notwithstanding their protest. Disappointed but undaunted, he said they will appeal to state officials.
“There is a finite amount of funding available. We will talk to committee members and other state officials. We want them to understand that this is not a good use of these funds,” Wiley said.
According to Moreau, if approved, plans would be finalized by the end of July and go through the city permitting process. The project would potentially break ground in 2016 and open a year later.