Apartment developers say Victoria council's vote crucial for project funding

Melissa Crowe By Melissa Crowe

Feb. 19, 2012 at 10:04 p.m.
Updated Feb. 19, 2012 at 8:20 p.m.

Victoria City Council is expected to vote on three resolutions that could make or break a proposed housing project.

The developer, Indiana-based Pedcor Investments, hopes the council approves the resolutions, which could help them win highly-competitive federal housing tax credits to build a multi-family apartment complex in the 5300 block of John Stockbauer Drive.

Mayor Will Armstrong said the resolutions, which include adopting an economic development initiative, a community revitalization plan and supporting Pedcor's application, are each vital to the project.

"This is a very, very competitive process, and there are several people applying for the same money," Armstrong said. "This is sort of a winner-take-all situation."

The three resolutions would account for 20 points, 1 for economic development, 1 for community revitalization and 18 for supporting the application.

While each point in the tax credit scoring is crucial, at the recommendation of the city staff, some council members say the area does not qualify for revitalization, despite how much housing is needed throughout the city.

Councilman Joe Truman said there is "no way" he would call that area in north Victoria a revitalization zone.

"I wish they would have come to me with a place that I could in good conscience call an area that needs revitalization," Truman said. "I've got plenty in my district, unfortunately, that area does not qualify in my book as revitalization."

He noted this project would be the third public housing development in the area.

"We'd love to have some on the south side of town," he said.

Craig H. Lintner, senior vice president of development for Pedcor, said he is confident the first and third resolutions will pass, but is unsure of the second, regarding the revitalization plan.

During the Feb. 7 city council meeting, Planning Director John Kaminski said he did not recommend approving the third item because the area is not in need of revitalization.

However, Lintner said, the definition in the qualified allocation plan is more flexible than the traditional one.

According to the application, revitalization provides an incentive for community transformation, including Qualified Census Tracts, by using pre-existing capacities and providing long-term improvements to specific areas.

"To be competitive and get one of these instead of seeing it go to Corpus Christi each year, you have to ... dig into the real definition," he said.

He said Corpus Christi is expected to pass any resolutions necessary to ensure their applicants get these points.

"If we're going to want to compete with these guys, these three resolutions will need to pass," he said.

Also facing the project are concerns from potential neighbors.

Lintner said it comes down to how the complex is built and then how it is managed.

"We've been building these all over the country for over 25 years," he said. "We routinely build in areas where we're surrounded by single-family communities just like the one at Windcrest. We're sensitive to that and try to land-plan accordingly."

In projects built next to multimillion-dollar communities, Lintner said, he heard similar concerns about hurting property values.

"After it's built, the concern goes away," he said.

While Armstrong said he anticipates opposition from neighbors, should the project move forward, but said the city is in need of housing.

"I'm not a real estate developer, but I know it's a fact that housing is a problem," he said. "Something is going to be developed there ... What I've learned about the development is it's going to be very attractive and they are very concerned about being good neighbors."

If the project does not move forward, the city would "have no control over that property," Armstrong said.

"I think the neighbors could do a lot worse," Armstrong said. While he would not elaborate, he encouraged property owners to "use their imagination."

Councilman David Hagan said neighbors' concerns would be a deciding factor in his vote for the three resolutions.

While he wants to see economic development in the community, he said, he wants to hear concerns addressed more directly about potential consequences for existing homeowners.

"Would it negatively impact their property values?" he asked. "If it would not devalue their homes, I would be supportive of this."



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