Wildhorn Capital LLC plans to redevelop The Patten, a South Austin apartment complex located near East Riverside Drive. RPM LIVING

Austin Business Journal shares, "Austin-based real estate investment firm Wildhorn Capital LLC is moving forward with plans to redevelop hundreds of South Austin apartments. It could quadruple the number of residences on the site, potentially bringing more change to a busy pocket of the city and ramping up the debate over affordable housing.

The company wants City Hall to rezone the 530 units at 2207 Wickersham Lane and 2239 Cromwell Circle, which appear to be complexes called Hillside Villas and The Patten, and raise the site's building height limit from 40 feet to as high as 120 feet. The change would clear the way for the boutique investment firm to create 2,100 apartments in an area close to downtown, Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and the headquarters of Oracle Corp.

The Austin Planning Commission, in a pair 9-1 votes, on Aug. 8 recommended the requested zoning change from urban residential to neighborhood mixed-use zoning, including a density bonus, to Austin City Council, which will have final say. Commissioner Grayson Cox made the sole votes in opposition.

The properties are within the East Riverside Corridor Master Plan, providing the basis for the increased heights — the land can be designated as transit-friendly because of its proximity to bus lines and the city’s planned light rail network. A light rail station is set to be constructed northwest of the existing apartments, near the intersection of South Pleasant Valley Road and East Riverside Drive.

The two properties, which total 23 acres, are owned by a holding company tied to Wildhorn and were most recently valued at more than $71 million by Travis Central Appraisal District.

Wildhorn and the firm’s legal counsel did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Redevelopment would include affordable units

In exchange for the added height, Wildhorn has promised to dedicate roughly 91 of the more than 2,000 apartments as affordable housing reserved for residents making 60% of the region’s median family income level, which is about $66,000.

Greg Anderson, a member of the Planning Commission, said the project’s approval through this particular municipal mechanism ensures that at least a portion of the units will be dedicated to providing affordable housing, viewed by many as a critical need in a city struggling to provide low-cost housing options.

"The existing homes are near the end of their useful lives barring serious investment, without the zoning they would likely clear the site and double the amount of housing by-right with zero affordability,” Anderson told Austin Business Journal in an Aug. 10 email. "Planning Commission moving forward with City Staff’s recommendation allows for over 2,000 homes along with nearly 100 permanently income-restricted homes along the Project Connect Blue Line."

Leah Bojo, a city lobbyist with local law firm Drenner Group PC who's representing Wildhorn, assured the commission the development will also include longterm protections for tenants including discrimination protections in regard to income sources and protecting the right to organize.

She shared that the sites currently provide 65 units at 60% MFI.

"We tried to look at best practices of other cases, things that are coming down the pipeline for other density bonuses and put them all together," Bojo said. "While we are not ready to redevelop yet, we are willing to commit to these things, so if things get sidelined they are locked in for these folks."

Neighbors voice opposition, questioning transit-worthiness

While the commission voted in favor of the rezoning, the request has generated pushback from some neighbors.

Malcolm Yates, chair of the East Riverside Oltorf Combined Neighborhood Plan Contact Team, argued much of the land lies outside the recommended quarter-mile perimeter surrounding the nearby Pleasant Valley Transit Hub, meaning it should be ineligible for the zoning change requested.

A portion of the northeast corner of the Wickersham property is located within the hub area, Yates said.

"These cases will set a precedent that will allow developers to expand the transportation hub boundaries in other corridor plan areas," Yates said. "What is the purpose of a master plan if the most fundamental concept of a plan is ignored?"

Others shared concern for those who could be displaced by the redevelopment process.

The proposal only serves the interests of developers, "not those of the citizens that would be displaced by the applicant’s request," wrote Zakiya Bookert, a resident of the area, in a letter to the city opposing the project.

Anderson countered that the plan enables a smoother transition to denser housing development within the district, creating a point of entry in a system he and others argue limits the city’s ability to permit such development.

"While our outdated 1984 land development code does its best to prevent housing, some of our regulating plans such as the East Riverside Plan from 2013 help to make housing easier to build," Anderson said.

Rapidly changing neighborhood

This is not the only major change considered within this part of Southeast Austin, located in close range of one of the city's largest tech employers in Oracle.

The Patten is just south of 4700 East Riverside, a planned 109-acre mixed-use community spearheaded by Presidium and Partners Group. That project is set to include thousands of new residences, including more than 400 affordable units, plus millions of square feet of office space.

Windhorn's proposal is being considered months after Austin-based developer PlaceMKR backed away from a $450 million plan to raise a mixed-use project on a 22-acre to the east of The Patten, at the intersection of East East Riverside Drive and State Highway 71.

Wildhorn's portfolio includes 17 multifamily developments with more than 4,100 individual units across the Austin-San Antonio region, including Enclave at Waters Edge at 12330 Metric Blvd., SoNA Apartment Homes in Northwest Austin near Anderson Mill and Bradford Pointe, a 264-unit property near The Domain.

The firm said online it has more than $830 million in assets under management. It has partnered with out-of-state partners on multiple occasions to make local acquisitions."


Source: Austin Business Journal 

Written by: Mike Christen

Published: August 11, 2023

Posted by Grossman & Jones Group on


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