Austin Housing Authority buys Bell apartments in Steiner

Map created by Steiner Ranch resident Craig Smyser outlining 25 acres next to Bell apartments and included in the recent purchase by the Housing Authority of the City of Austin in Steiner.

By LYNETTE HAALAND, Four Points News

The Housing Authority of the City of Austin has recently purchased the 302-unit Bell Steiner Ranch Apartments for affordable housing including some 25 acres of greenbelt in Steiner Ranch.

“In late August, approximately 25 acres of land along Steiner Ranch Boulevard between the Steakhouse and the Bell Apartments was sold,” according to resident Craig Smyser. He posted this information on his Facebook page Discover Steiner Ranch.

“The buyer was the Housing Authority of the City of Austin which ‘is a public agency whose business is to ensure safe, quality affordable housing opportunities exist for families of low income.'”

Four Points News has made multiple inquiries to the Housing Authority of the City of Austin about plans for property in Steiner Ranch but has not gotten any response as of the print deadline.

This property is part of Steiner Ranch, but is not within the Austin city limits, and this parcel is not located in a limited purpose annexed area, according to Smyser. 

The entire purchase totaled 51-acres which includes about 25 acres of greenbelt.

According to the Housing Authority records, the purchase price for the 302-unit Bell Steiner Apartments at 4800 Steiner Ranch Blvd. was $99,500,000 and the purchase was passed by the Board of Commissioners of the Housing Authority of the City of Austin on August 18.

Some residents have posted comments about the news. 

“Some things about this just don’t make sense – this is a horrible location for low income housing… there’s no bus service, it’s not walkable, there’s no grocery stores, businesses or retail easily accessible (unless you have a car), there’s no affordable child care in the area, there’s zero access to any city of Austin services,” one Steiner resident posted.

This is not the first purchase of the Austin Affordable Housing Corp. (a subsidiary of the Housing Authority of the City of Austin). It purchased the Bridge at Ribelin Ranch apartment complex in December 2021. Through that purchase, 175 newly restricted affordable units were created at the 350-unit complex, which is located next to Four Points Middle School.

At the Housing Authority of the City of Austin Board of Commissioners meeting on August 18, there was a presentation of information before the vote was taken about the purchase of Bell Steiner Apartments.

HACA’s subsidiary Austin Affordable Housing Corporation was presented with an opportunity to partner with L & M Development partners, to purchase a 302 unit multi-family rental property called Bell Steiner Apartments. The development is located at 4800 Steiner Ranch Boulevard, Austin, Texas 78732, “an extremely high opportunity area of 620 and the Steiner Ranch residential development.”

The Board of Commissioners of the Housing Authority of the City of Austin took a vote to acquire the site of the development and lease the development site to the owner of the development.

“The property feeds into the highly desirable award winning Leander school District with Steiner Ranch Elementary, Canyon Ridge Middle School and Vandegrift High School. The property’s location provides fantastic access to many employers, retail shops, grocery stores and medical providers,” according to the presentation to the HACA board.

The Bell Steiner Apartments were built in 2016 and sits on 51.9 acres. It is currently 99% occupied and rents currently range from $1,640 for a 1 bedroom to $2,858 for a 3 bedroom. There are 127 attached garages, 32 detached garages and 75 carports. 

Since the purchase was approved with 4-ayes and 0-nays in August, this will allow the creation of at least 50% of the units to be leased to residents below 80% Area Median Income with 10% of the units at 60% Area Median Income over the next 12 months.These rent reductions average over $350 per month below current market rents, with the 3-bedroom units seeing a reduction of $565 per month, according to the presentation.

A current lease audit is underway to determine the initial number of units already qualified under 80% AMI. AAHC and L&M are committed to leasing units to all eligible voucher holders. 

The property will be managed by Apartment Management Professionals. L & M has agreed to use the name “Bridge at” for naming the property once closed, according to the presentation.

The purchase price for the Bell Steiner Apartments is $99,500,000. L & M will be investing approximately $30,000,000 as a down payment and capital needs reserves. CBRE Capital Markets will provide a Freddie Mac affordable loan with a not to exceed $38,000,000 at a rate of approximately 4.75%. AAHC will not have any liability and will not be responsible for any guarantees required by the lender other than standard carve outs. 

This is the fourth asset partnering with L & M Development Partners. AAHC currently owns several developments in the area including the recently acquired Bridge at Canyon Creek and Bridge at Volente, records show.

Founded in 1984, L & M is a full service real estate development firm which develops, invests, and constructs. Currently ranked #17 on the Affordable Housing Finance’s Top 50 Developers list nationwide, L & M is responsible for approximately $10 billion in development and investment, and has acquired, built, or preserved nearly 35,000 units. AAHC is working with Eben Ellertson, Head of Fund Management, and Amanda Ryzowy, the document states.

Some of the Bell Steiner property amenities include a resort style swimming pool with lounge seating, splash pad and waterfall-fed lap pool, modern game room and media room, a digital café with a Starbucks coffee bar, a large conference room and business center, state of the art fitness center and a fenced dog park.

The story has been updated since it appeared in the October 16, 2022 edition of Four Points News.