By Jonathan Lee
An affordable housing project called the Libertad is set to bring over 200 affordable homes to city-owned property in East Austin.
The project at 900 Gardner Road will be built on a vacant, 8.5-acre slice of a larger property that is home to the Austin Animal Center, among other city organizations, as well as nonprofit Emancipet.
The project came before the Planning Commission Tuesday to ask for a zoning change from Public (P) to Community Commercial-Mixed-Use (GR-MU) zoning, which the commission unanimously recommended.
“I think (the project) moves forward a lot of the goals that we want to meet around affordable housing … and providing the community benefits that we need on our public land assets,” Commissioner Awais Azhar said.
While the exact number of units is in flux, current plans call for 198 rental units, all of which will be affordable to those making between 30 and 60 percent of the area median income. Twenty-six ownership units are also planned, though an affordability breakdown is not available. There will be a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom units.
“This is very much going to be a family-oriented community,” said Conor Kenny, representing the project before the commission.
The project will also provide homes for those experiencing homelessness, with 60 units dedicated to homelessness response and 25 units set aside for veterans at risk of homelessness.
Current plans show the rental units located in three separate buildings and the ownership units spread across 13 duplexes. Planned amenities include a walking trail, sports courts and a barbecue pit.
The Austin Housing Finance Corporation, an arm of the city that builds affordable housing, owns the property and is guiding the development with the help of nonprofits Vecino Group, Caritas of Austin and the Guadalupe Neighborhood Development Corporation.
The commission spent some time addressing concerns from a neighbor opposed to the project. Wendy Greiner said she feared increased traffic and flooding and called the project “overbuilt.” She also argued that there are better city-owned sites for affordable housing. “I’m just asking that you guys consider reducing the number of units if you can’t consider moving to another location,” she said.
Commissioners hoped to ease the neighbor’s concerns by pointing out that parking will be provided on-site and that some of the future residents may not own cars.
The project was originally planned on a smaller portion of the site, but a potentially hazardous use at a Whole Foods Distribution Center across the street caused the city to increase the project’s area by 2 acres to ensure future homes are at safe distance. According to the Austin Fire Department, the distribution center handles materials that could be dangerous in case of a fire.
It is now up to City Council to approve the zoning change. If the change is approved as expected, the biggest task before construction can begin will be securing financing – “a moving target these days for affordable housing,” Kenny said, adding that the team will “come up with a configuration that needs as little public support as possible.”
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Austin police are investigating the killing of Moriah "Mo" Wilson after she was found with gunshot wounds inside an Austin home.
Wilson, a gravel and mountain bike racer, was visiting Austin from Colorado in preparation for the Gravel Locos race on Saturday taking place in Hico, a small town 2 hours from Austin.
On Wednesday, her roommate came home and found Wilson unresponsive with "a lot of blood near her,” police said. It is now being investigated as a suspicious death. No further information on the suspect or motive behind the killing are available at this time.
Wilson recently had become a full-time biker after winning a slew of races in the past year.
Some of your favorite Instagram filters can’t be used in Texas anymore and Austinites are sounding off on social media.
Meta, Facebook and Instagram’s parent company, announced on Wednesday that certain filters would no longer be available in Texas.
The change is a result of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s lawsuit against Meta, alleging the company uses facial recognition technology that violates laws in Texas. A release from Meta says it stopped using facial recognition tech in November 2021 and denies Paxton’s allegations.
Some Austinites bemoaned the shift, saying some of their favorite filters were now unavailable.
This was my FAVORITE filter on @instagram and they done removed it cause I’m in Texas ! Like wowwwwww pic.twitter.com/uX60hdIC0Q
— Pinkyy Montana (@inkstar_pinkyy) May 11, 2022
i heard that instagram filters got banned in texas? what the actual fuck y’all better give me my favorite filter back
— lia 🤍 (@liatootrill) May 11, 2022
loved this stupid filter sm i hate texas pic.twitter.com/DXr9mmUc64
— birthday boy jeno 🎂 (@beabtox) May 12, 2022
But more often than not, locals joked about the ban.
Texas women seeing the filter ban on IG pic.twitter.com/yDMcP3Qtsr
— Christian (Anabolic) Flores (@christian_flo24) May 11, 2022
So, the state of Texas has banned filter use on IG? THE END IS NEAR. 😂
— THE FRANCHISE! Франшиза (@NYCFranchise718) May 12, 2022
And some in-between chose to show off some natural beauty.
I live in Texas, but no filter needed. 😉 pic.twitter.com/A6teRgYMKn
— bad and bruja (@starseedmami) May 11, 2022
filter, no filter..texas women still reign supreme.
— 🎍 (@_sixile) May 11, 2022
Finally, some are trying to cash in on the opportunity.
Texas IG users- if you want to filter your picture cashapp me $1.50 $ErvnYng
— Gemini (@ervn_y) May 11, 2022
Meta said it plans to create an opt-in system for both Texas and Illinois residents, who are facing the same issues.