NRP Group continues to blaze a trail in the San Antonio market as it goes under contract to buy 54 acres of vacant land near the Brooks economic hub where it plans to build apartments and retail shops.
The project, at the crossing of Presa Street and Corpus Christi Highway, would be one of the largest investments made by a developer on the South Side in recent years. The construction of the Mission Reach trail and the redevelopment of the former Brooks Air Force Base have sparked a building boom of new apartments in the area.
NRP plans to use 15 acres of the land for a 320-unit apartment complex, said Jay Johnson, a developer with the company. It is partnering with the city’s San Antonio Housing Trust Finance Corporation on the $49 million complex, whose residents would be limited to those earning between 50 and 60 percent of Bexar County’s median income — or, between $31,750 and $38,100 a year.
“All the stuff (built recently) has been market rate. So there’s a need now for more affordable, for all the jobs that can’t afford the new high bar of rent at Brooks,” said Dan Markson, NRP’s senior vice president of development.
NRP, which is based in Cleveland but has a local office, would buy the 54-acre site from the Brooks Development Authority, the agency that operates Brooks, which bought it from the state of Texas in 2007. NRP and Brooks are still discussing the purchase price, Johnson said; the property was assessed at $2.8 million this year by the Bexar Appraisal District. If everything goes to plan, NRP will line up its financing in the second quarter of next year and complete the complex’s first buildings by July 2019, Johnson said.
The company is working with potential partners who could build retail on part of the site, Johnson said. He declined to name who the partners are. There’s enough land that a second phase of apartments could be built, he said.
The site of the proposed complex benefits from being close to the Mission Reach trail and the employment hub at Brooks, and from being in an area with relatively little traffic congestion compared to the North Side, Markson said. He thinks the growth of Palo Alto College and Texas A&M University’s South Side campus will bring more jobs to the area.
New apartment complexes have transformed parts of the South Side in the last five years, causing concern among residents that they will clog the area with traffic or overwhelm the missions, which were declared World Heritage sites in 2015. Some residents are also worried that too many subsidized apartments are being clustered there compared to other parts of San Antonio, especially the North Side.
“I am concerned about the density of apartments. I think we have enough, but such is life,” said Carroll Brown, a volunteer with Alliance for San Antonio Missions, a nonprofit set up to protect the missions. “The more people you pack together, by definition, the worse it gets.”
For his part, Markson doesn’t think there’s a great risk of the South Side becoming as congested as the North Side, due to the large number of thoroughfares connecting it to downtown.
“It’s a great place to live, with everything … you want that’s on the North Side, and no traffic,” he said. “You’ve got 15 different ways in and out.”
At least five major apartment complexes have been built along the Mission Reach and at Brooks in the last few years, offering 1,510 living units, according to property records and news articles. Another six are either under construction or planned and are expected to bring another 1,534 units.
NRP has led the way in building new apartments in the area. More than half of the 3,044 units that have been built or are in the works in the area are NRP projects.
The company has built two complexes in the nearby Brooks economic hub, including the Kennedy, which opened earlier this year. Last year, it partnered with local developer James Lifshutz on The Flats at Big Tex, a 336-unit complex in Southtown. The company plans to build more complexes on the South Side, including a mixed-income one along the river and another near the Lone Star Brewery, even though the rehabilitation project there seems to have stalled.
Reported by The San Antonio Express-News (Nov. 1, 2017)
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