The newly named Pecan Gardens project gets closer to fruition after a judge dismisses a case against Austin for their plans to convert Candlewood Suites Austin NW – Lakeline into permanent supportive housing for people with disabilities.
By LYNETTE HAALAND
Four Points News
A Williamson County district court judge has rejected a lawsuit from Williamson County that sued the city of Austin over a project to turn a former hotel into homeless housing.
On August 23, the judge rejected the lawsuit and the order stated the case “is dismissed with prejudice for lack of jurisdiction.”
The lawsuit was filed in June 2022 by Williamson County, one day after Austin City Council members approved funding for the project.
The county’s petition claimed the property is zoned for commercial use only. The lawsuit sought a temporary restraining order against AHFC Pecan Park PSH, a nonprofit created by the city, to stop the conversion of the hotel, according to multiple sources.
“We are hopeful that neighbors experiencing homelessness will soon benefit from the renovated housing community and services Pecan Gardens will provide,” the city’s statement read in part.
A city of Austin spokesperson said the Pecan Gardens project can proceed to address homelessness in the region.
A Williamson County spokesperson said the county does not wish to comment at this time.
According to KXAN, the city has a contract with Family Eldercare to operate the property. Family Eldercare CEO Aaron Alarcon told KXAN last month that it plans to finish construction in January 2024.
The hotel is to be converted into permanent supportive housing for 78 people over the age of 55 with disabilities.
The Austin City Council entered a contract to purchase the Candlewood Suites Austin NW – Lakeline at 10811 Pecan Park Boulevard in early 2021 for $9.5 million. It is located near RM 620 and Highway 183 near Lakeline Mall.
The Austin City Council voted 10-1 to purchase it to convert into long-term, affordable housing for people experiencing homelessness. The vote was followed by protests against the plan by business owners and homeowners who live near the Candlewood site.
The City’s overarching plan is to purchase 10 hotels or motels, one per district, and convert them into affordable housing to help homeless people stabilize their living situation and transition out of poverty, creating a more sustainable solution for Austin’s growing homeless population.
The Williamson County Commissioners Court objected to not being briefed about the project until the vote to purchase it was announced, with commissioners learning about it just days before the vote from public comments objecting to it.
Days after the WilCo Court’s formal request for a 180-day delay on the vote to purchase the hotel was ignored, the Court voted to hire a law firm to look into its options.
But this August a judge dismissed Williamson County’s lawsuit.
Lily Chandler of Hill Country News contributed to this article.