Developer, Austin nonprofit team up on apartment project with below-market rents in Wells Branch
Cleveland-based developer NRP Group has started construction on an apartment complex that will bring 275 units with below-market rents to the Wells Branch area north of Austin.
The project, called the James on Grand Avenue, is being built at 15701 FM 1325.
The site is about 15 miles north of downtown Austin and a few miles from Apple Inc.'s $1 billion campus that is under construction in Northwest Austin. Apple's new campus is expected to bring thousands of jobs and billions in investment to the area.
The apartments would be available for individuals and families earning 60% or less of the Austin-area's median income.
In the Austin area, the current median family income is $98,900 for a four-person household. At 60% of the median income, that would put the annual income limit for units at the James on Grand Avenue at $41,580 for an individual, $47,520 for a two-person household and $59,340 for a four-person household.
Monthly rents at the new complex are anticipated to range from $1,030 for a one-bedroom, one-bathroom unit and up to almost $1,600 for a four-bedroom, two-bathroom unit, NRP said.
Founded in 1994, NRP has developed more than 43,000 apartment homes and currently manages more than 23,000 residential units. NRP's partner in the James on Grand Avenue is the Capital Area Housing Finance Corp., an Austin-based nonprofit that addresses workforce housing needs in Central Texas.
Jason Arechiga, NRP Group's senior vice president of development, said there is a significant need for more moderately priced housing in the Austin region.
"Population growth and housing demand in Austin has exploded these past several years as technology companies like Tesla, Apple and Samsung gravitate to the city," Arechiga said in a statement. "The need for more affordable housing accommodations for residents with moderate income profiles is extremely high."
The James will have seven buildings three to four stories in height, with the unit mix ranging from one to four bedrooms.
Amenities will include a pool, barbecue pits, a fitness center, a community and business center, and facilities for children, such as a playground.
The complex is in the vicinity of the Domain, the mixed-use development in North Austin, as well as several parks and other recreational areas.
Services will include financial literacy training, after-school programming and first-time homebuyer programs, executives said.
Jim Shaw, executive director of the Capital Area Housing Finance Corp., said the nonprofit and NRP are eager to bring "an affordable community of this scale to market.”
"Williamson County remains an attractive and sought-after destination for working professionals and families in search of affordable, pedestrian-friendly living options in close proximity to jobs and great schools,” he said.
NRP said in a news release that the complex was a "4% tax credit and bond development" being built in partnership with the finance corporation. It did not release additional financing details about the project.
Walter Moreau, a local affordable housing advocate, said that "the affordable housing need for families making below 60% of the median income continues to be huge."
Moreau is executive director of the nonprofit Foundation Communities, an Austin-based developer of affordable housing in Texas.
In Austin, Foundation Communities has three apartment complexes under construction with below market rents, Moreau said.
Those are the Laurel Creek apartments on North Lamar Boulevard between Braker and Parmer lanes, Zilker Studios on South Lamar Boulevard near Collier Street, and the Loretta Apartments, next to the Lakeline train station.
Laurel Creek's 88 units will start preleasing next month. Rents are expected to range from $450 a month to $1,150 a month, Moreau said.
They will include 18 units for families and children that have been experiencing homelessness. The project will have a large community center as well as a preschool operated by the nonprofit Open Door.
Zilker Studios, which will open late next year, will have 110 efficiency apartments designed for single adults who have been homeless or have income of 30% or less of the area's median family income.
Monthly rents at Zilker Studios are projected to range from $435 to $722, with all bills paid.
The Loretta Apartments also are slated to open at the end of 2022. That complex will have 135 apartments, mostly two- and three-bedroom units, and mostly for families making below 50% of the median household income, Moreau said.
The Loretta's rents are expected to average under $1,000 a month, Moreau said.