Town hall meeting sheds light on details of Hidden Glenn proposal
If JES Development Company Inc. is awarded the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs 2014 Competitive Housing Tax Credit for a proposed 50-unit senior affordable living project in the Village of Salado Extra-Territorial Jurisdiction, the company will receive $580,000 in tax credits per year for the next 10 years.
The tax credits can be sold to businesses, such as banks and other entities for as much as 80-90 cents on the dollar, Mark Feaster of JES Development Company, Inc. (JES )told an audience of about 130 gathered at the Salado Civic Center for a town hall meeting April 21.
Feaster told the audience that JES is pursuing the project because it sees the demand in the community for 300 units for senior affordable living.
The project will have one- and two-bedroom apartments available to those seniors aged 62 and above (a concession made to aldermen at a workshop). Earlier this year, aldermen endorsed the project and voted to give it a tax abatement of $930 per year after the project annexes itself into the Village limits, something the developers have said they would do when construction is complete. Even with the tax abatement, the development would generate approximately $7,500 in new property taxes to the Village annually.
Despite the public endorsement by aldermen, many gathered at the town hall meeting expressed their concern about the merits of the project and who would be served by the construction of the affordable housing units.
They grilled Feaster, aldermen and city administrator Jim Reed about the project, peppering them with questions about possible drainage issues, the quality of the facility itself, adequate market research of the area and the future infrastructure and public service needs of the proposed gated community of 50 units.
Feaster explained that the storm water plans are “designed to hold water and let it off at rate less than what comes off of there right now. “
The village would have to provide police services to the development when it is brought into the Village limits. Fire service will be provided by the Salado Volunteer Fire Department (SVFD), water would come from Salado Water Supply Corporation and the project would have its own on-site sewage treatment system.
Addressing a concern that the project is Section 8 housing, alderman Fred Brown said, “the federal government does not pay to subsidize the rents on these properties. The renters pay the rent. They pay their own water and their own electricity.”
Before doing so, however, they must meet certain standards in terms of income. Feaster told the audience that the annual income level must be at or below $32,000 per year, which is 60 percent of the median income for Bell County. Everyone in the unit must also be 62 years old. He added that the projects are not assisted living, but “independent living.”
The Hidden Glen Development is currently in the lead in terms of the scoring system for awarding the 9% Competitive Grants. Feaster said that the awards are made based upon a 160-point scale that takes into consideration many things, including demand, the quality of the project and public support from local and state government. Hidden Glenn has been endorsed by the Village and County (good enough for about 17 points) and State Representative Jimmy Don Aycock (good for another 8 points).
“If you don’t get those, you are not going to be successful,” Feaster said. This may be the reason that an affordable family living project proposed for the corner of Williams Rd. and West Village Rd. withdrew from the application process this spring. It did not receive the endorsement or tax abatements from the Village of Salado aldermen.
The proposed Hidden Glen project fell just short of the tax credit award last year and was slightly changed for this year to make it more competitive against other projects.
But the major aspects of the project remain the same, including its location northeast of the intersection of Mary Lane and Vanessa St. and the design standard which will feature Texas limestone, a clubhouse for residents, green space, covered parking and a cart trail that connects to Mill Creek through Stagecoach Circle.
During the 10 years that the tax credits are issued, Feaster said, the developers will have to continue to meet the requirements attached to the credits, including the income requirements for residents.
“We can’t just go and change,” he said, “otherwise we will have to pony up all the credits.”
The units are one bedroom apartments of about 700 sq. ft. that will rent for $530 per month and two bedroom apartments of about 850 sq. ft. that will rent for $695 per month.
One local asked what happens when the developer leaves.
“We don’t leave,” Feaster said. JES Development Company has invested in more than 15,000 affordable housing units, Feaster said.