Future site of the Alazan Lofts. Credit: Stephanie Marquez / San Antonio Report

The San Antonio Housing Authority can move forward with a new mixed-income housing project in the near West Side after a Texas agency awarded the authority a 9 percent tax credit. 

David Nisivoccia, president and CEO of the housing authority, said the tax credit from the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs ensured the Alazán Lofts project was fully funded.

“There hasn’t been investment in this neighborhood by SAHA in a generation, and in that whole area a stretch similar, if not longer,” Nisivoccia said. “There’s an opportunity for the neighborhood to receive high-quality affordable housing, of which a large portion will be public housing and have modern amenities that traditional public housing does not have.”

SAHA partnered with developer NRP Group to design and construct Alazán Lofts across the street from Alazán Courts. The new housing complex will have 88 units. Of those, 48 will be public housing, eight will be market-rate apartments, and the rest will be allocated for renters making a fraction of the area’s median income. Most of SAHA’s clients make less than $10,000 a year, Nisivoccia said.

SAHA has relied on tax credits from TDCHA in the past for other housing developments, including East Meadows and Sutton Oaks. Jim Bailey, a principal at Alamo Architects and a member of the mayor’s housing policy task force, said receiving the 9 percent tax credit was a “big deal.”

“Historically tax credits have been the primary way we’ve been generating new affordable housing nationwide,” Bailey said. “It’s a really big deal because it’s the only way we’re getting new, deep-targeted, affordable housing units.”

Though the project only sets aside about half of its units for public housing, Bailey said any housing for the lowest-income bracket is important.

“In my opinion, we should be supporting any project that delivers 30 percent [area median income] units for the poorest San Antonians,” he said.

The housing authority has already hosted 17 meetings with the public to gather input about the Alazán Lofts project and plans to host more, Nisivoccia said. The surrounding community is eager to ensure that the new building will fit in with the rest of the neighborhood aesthetic.

“There’s an appropriate sensitivity to what the structure is going to look like, and we’ll keep working on that with the community,” Nisivoccia said. “We want to make sure it’s something they can take pride in and is reflective of the community. … We’re not only a developer, but we’re a good neighbor.”

The new complex will have central air conditioning and heat. SAHA also is planning to install other amenities such as free Wi-Fi in community areas, Nisivoccia said.

This new housing development comes on the heels of San Antonio’s push to increase affordable housing in the city. San Antonio was recently chosen to participate in a national program to address housing challenges, while City Council voted last year to approve a new housing policy framework.

The Alazán Lofts project awaits final designs, but the housing authority expects to break ground by the second quarter of 2020, SAHA spokesman Michael Reyes said. 

“The reason the process takes some time is because it’s important to gather feedback from the community, particularly in a historic and culturally rich community such as this,” Reyes said. “We have to make sure we solicit feedback from all neighborhood associations and community leaders to make sure we’re building something that reflects the neighborhood.”

Jackie Wang covered local government for the San Antonio Report.