Bexar County Commissioners on Tuesday voted unanimously to approve a tax incentive for a proposed 13-story, mixed-use luxury apartment development downtown near Hemisfair, one of the first such abatements approved since the County temporarily halted development incentives in October 2017.
Commissioners directed staff to begin negotiating a 10-year, 40 percent real and personal property tax abatement for the Durango Apartment complex, which County staff said would ultimately equal a $349,475 abatement.
Staff estimated that Laney Development’s project will be roughly a $30 million investment in the County’s Precinct 4, Commissioner Tommy Calvert’s precint, with $524,212 in taxes realized over the next 10 years.
Calvert motioned and voted to approve the proposal, but told the Rivard Report after the meeting that it’s “kind of ironic that this” was among the first incentive projects approved after the months-long hiatus.
Commissioners voted in October to reconsider the County’s incentive policies after approving a $3 million dollar tax abatement to move Credit Human, a credit union in northwest San Antonio, to the Pearl.
Commissioners did not change any of their practices for determining incentives for residential developments. However, during that period Calvert requested that the County more seriously consider funding affordable housing developments during a nearly three-hour long discussion.
The mixed-used development to be built at 421 S. Presa St. will include 70 apartments, two townhomes, three live-work spaces, a parking garage, and more than 1,500 square feet of retail space on the ground floor. Tim Proctor, the developer, said rent would likely be valued at about $3 per square foot, putting monthly rental rates at about $1,700 to $6,500.
“That’s astronomically high,” Calvert said after the meeting. “It’s pretty obscene.”
Moreover, he said, he’s unsure if there’s even a market for apartments that expensive in San Antonio.
Calvert said because the County Commission operates on a “unit system”, where approval requires three out of five votes, his opposition to the project would have been fruitless because there was no other opposition. He said he would prefer a precinct system of governance where he has “complete authority over every one of the decisions, from roads to contracts, in my precinct.”
“I much prefer a precinct system because I think I know what my precinct needs,” Calvert said.
Commissioners recently updated their policies for providing incentives for job creation. However, those updates did not change the County’s policies on the developments for which commissioners voted to provide incentives.
County staff said they expected the Durango Apartments to be completed by August 2019, however Proctor believes it will be later.