HealthSouth Item 101

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Sara Barge
Posts: 6
Joined: Mon Mar 21, 2022 2:31 pm

HealthSouth Item 101

Post by Sara Barge »

On behalf of CM Qadri:


Our eastern corner of Downtown is an area of transition, transformation, and innovation. With the Innovation District to the north, led by then-Senator Watson, Waterloo Park to the west, Red River Cultural District to the south, and East Austin to the east, it’s an evolving area melding science, art, nature, and culture. City-owned property at 12th Street and Red River is situated at the convergence of all these places, an opportunity to integrate these disparate districts into a more cohesive vision. I couldn’t think of a better time to re-envision this site’s potential than this week as we consider the adoption of the Palm District Plan.

I invite you all to join me in taking the lessons we learned from the past and moving toward a pragmatic vision for the future, one that is grounded in community and opportunity for all.

Our resolution from July requested the City Manager to review off-site opportunities within the Palm District Plan area, conduct community engagement, share market feasibility data with Council, and return with ideas on the next steps to develop the property. The memo from City staff released Friday summarizes where we are with possible development at the site. The lagging market will likely pick back up by the third quarter of 2024 at the earliest. Community engagement was clear: downtown area stakeholders want workforce housing options on the site to bring inclusivity to the Waterloo Park area and provide real housing options for workers in the Innovation District, Convention Center, and Red River Cultural District. Other site uses could include ground floor commercial attainable to local businesses and art and community spaces. Finally, staff proposed an option meriting further analysis of focusing a portion of the property to maximize affordable units and the remainder of the site on a more market-driven partnership with some community benefits and maximizing developability to catalyze development in the eastern portion of downtown. This strategy could be a win-win for all, but first, we need more information on this proposal.

Item 101 this week enables the City to further explore on-site affordable housing in more detail for a portion or all of the site through a comparison of units yielded through:
1. Staff’s proposal of a LIHTC property on portion of the site, and
2. A hypothetical RFP of the entire site including other community priorities identified by area stakeholders.

Depending on what we learn from the yield analysis, we will then have the opportunity to explore other priorities and other revenue generation options for affordable housing with all or a remainder of the site.

This resolution does not close the door on exploring other options. It merely enables staff to provide more detail regarding on-site affordable housing units, a key community interest and goal in our plans to promote inclusivity, equitable development, and affirmatively furthering fair housing. Once we have more information on on-site affordable housing options, we can move forward with a fuller vision to accomplish both on-site affordability and a more market-driven strategy on the rest of the site. I would support the eventual authorization of AEDC as lead on the development process for all or the remainder of the property by Q3 of 2024 at the earliest.

Make no mistake, I’m committed to maximizing housing options downtown. Austin’s downtown should be a downtown for everyone. It should be a downtown for our first responders, a downtown for our teachers, a downtown for our restaurant workers, and a downtown for our city employees. It should be a downtown for everyone. I see the value of bringing workforce housing options on city-owned land to MY downtown neighborhood. I’m committed to the inclusive development goals of the Palm District Plan, and I look forward to working with my colleagues and community stakeholders to see this vision through.

In Solidarity,

Council Member Qadri, D9

With support from:

Council Member Harper-Madison, D1
Council Member Fuentes, D2
Council Member Velásquez, D3
Council Member Vela, D4
Chief of Staff, District 9