By SHELLY WILKISON
A Georgia-based company looking to build a 74-unit independent living rental community for senior citizens in Liberty Hill received a favorable nod from the City Council Jan. 25.
“We have the opportunity to bring in a $10 million project that will cost the City little to nothing,” said Clyde Davis, a local real estate broker. Davis, who also chairs the City’s Planning & Zoning Commission, owns the 10 acres along State Highway 29 and Bailey Lane where the proposed apartment complex will be located.
Davis submitted to the Council a petition for voluntary annexation of a 16-acre tract of land into the city limits. The rental community would be located on the back 10 acres, he said. The Council voted unanimously, with Connie Fuller abstaining, to accept the petition and begin the process of rezoning it from agricultural use.
Mrs. Fuller, also a real estate agent, abstained from the vote. She is related to Davis, who also submitted an affidavit declaring his financial interest in the land sale and a statement that as a P&Z member he will abstain from voting on decisions regarding the property.
The Council authorized the City Attorney to work with Prestwick Development to draft a resolution of support for the project that will include a financial commitment from the City of $10,500. The Council will consider those resolutions at its next meeting Feb. 11.
Developer Breck Kean of Prestwick described the project to the Council Monday and presented a proposed site plan.
He said Prestwick is seeking approval from the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs to earn federal housing tax credits — the value of which allows the development to be leased to senior citizens at below market rate rents. Liberty Hill Manor is competing with similar proposed projects in Hutto, Bastrop, Dripping Springs and Wimberley in Central Texas. Across the state, 276 applications will be submitted to compete for about $54 million in annual tax credit availability. Kean said the HTC program is very competitive.
Kean said the City’s financial commitment would help show community support for the development, thereby adding points to Prestwick’s application for Housing Tax Credit.
“This federal tax credit (program) helps stimulate the development of rental housing,” Kean said. “It is not affiliated with public housing or HUD. This is not a tenant subsidy program. We aren’t asking for tax abatements. We would be a full tax-paying entity, adding a $10 million asset to the community that would be no burden on the school system.”
Kean said with 74 rental units, the City would gain 74 new water and sewer connections in addition to the property tax revenue and sales tax revenue the project would generate.
The City’s $10,500 commitment could take the form of an in-kind contribution whereby the City could waive tap fees or provide it as an infrastructure loan. Kean said the funds would ultimately be used to bring water and sewer to the facility.
“We are an economic development engine,” he said.
Kean said residents of the proposed independent living community would be age 55 or older, with an annual income of $25,000-$30,000. Applicants must pass credit checks, criminal background checks and be able to live independently.
He said the two-story facility will offer one and two-bedroom apartments. Inside the complex, residents would have access to a fitness center, business center, health screening room, an activities room with a catering kitchen and other amenities.
Mayor Jamie Williamson said in addition to Prestwick, another company has also expressed interest in locating a senior rental community in Liberty Hill under the same HTC program. She said the company was unavailable to make a presentation Monday.
In order to qualify for the HTC, the company must submit its complete application along with resolutions of support from the City of Liberty Hill prior to March 1. Award notifications are expected from the state in July. If approved, Prestwick would close on the land purchase by the end of the year and construction could be completed by the end of 2014. Kean said the City’s financial commitment is contingent upon state approval for housing tax credits.
Prestwick has a similar senior housing development about to break ground in Lampasas. Kean encouraged Liberty Hill city officials to contact city management in Lampasas about their experience with the company.