AUSTIN, Texas — On Thursday, the Austin City Council voted to move forward with a developer for the St. John project, or Item 26.
After years of discussion and community input – and 13 years that the site has sat vacant – the vote will allow for the construction of new housing, parks and community space to begin in one year.
“Too often, families in St. John have either been left behind by the City or pushed out by gentrification,” said Austin City Council Member Greg Casar. “With this project, we’re demanding something different. We’re building housing that will keep families in the neighborhood, rather than pushing them out. We’re bringing parks, jobs and services to the community, while also creating more affordable housing options. If we succeed, this will be an example of what we can do across Austin.”
Casar's office said the project will help neighbors in a gentrifying area stay in place. It will include 4 acres of parks, open space, retail and nonprofit offices, and hundreds of affordable homes.
The project will also require Right to Stay and Right to Return policies, allowing working-class families currently living in the neighborhood to find permanent, affordable places to stay, as well as making displaced families with historic ties to the area to be preferred for affordable units.
“I began working on this project with Councilmember Greg Casar towards the end of 2017, and though the process has been lengthy, it ensured that community voice was centered in the conversations,” said Cherelle Vanbrakle, whose family has historic ties to the neighborhood. “Through community meetings, attending neighborhood events, and block walking door to door, this group worked to make sure that any incoming developer would not only understand the history of St. John, but also the importance of its residents’ (past, current, and future) experience and how to incorporate that into their design. This vote will take us one step closer to the community-led action that this neighborhood and its people have wanted for generations.”
The site will be developed through a partnership with Greystar Development Central LLC and the Housing Authority of the City of Austin (HACA).
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