Council OKs Three-Home Project Planned for Dignowity Hill

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321 North Hackberry

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

The empty lot at 321 N. Hackberry St. will accommodate three single-family homes under a zoning change the City Council approved.

City Council on Thursday unanimously approved a proposed rezoning that will accommodate construction of three new single-family homes on a single lot in Dignowity Hill.

Abel and Gabriela Morin originally requested adjusting the Infill Development Rezoning (IDZ) on their vacant residential lot at 321 N. Hackberry St. to allow construction of four homes. The previous rezoning permitted some commercial usage on the lot.

The initial proposal sparked some contention in Dignowity Hill, an Eastside neighborhood that has been a hotbed of infill redevelopment in recent years.

Christian Pesce spoke at an April 2 Zoning Commission meeting on behalf of the Neighborhood Development Advisory Committee of the Dignowity Hill Neighborhood Association (DHNA). He said the association supported the original four-house proposal.

But residents such as Joseph Garcia, Liz Franklin, and Crystal Lira expressed opposition to the project. They expressed worries that that four structures would be too dense for the property and that the structures would be too high and out of character with the surrounding neighborhood.

Nearly 30 property owners based immediately around 321 N. Hackberry expressed opposition to the four-home proposal, according to City staff.

The Zoning Commission recommended approval by a 6-4 vote April 2. City zoning staff also recommended approval.

But the local developer, Pryme Homes, after talking with DHNA and many of the concerned neighbors, arrived at a compromise with the project’s critics that included downsizing the project to three homes and ensuring the house fronting North Hackberry would be no higher than the home immediately next door. The developer also agreed to keep the two other houses at two stories.

Joseph Garcia appeared before Council on Thursday, saying he and fellow project critics are more accepting of three homes as long as Pryme Homes keeps its end of the bargain.

Garcia, however, said he and many homeowners that were supposed to receive the City’s notice about the proposed rezoning were not notified.

Garcia added that this and other redevelopments around Dignowity Hill, a historic district, deserve full discussion from community members, especially with such development increasing property values around the neighborhood.

“We are investors. We are the ones who built Dignowity Hill,” he said.

Garcia said developers coming to Eastside communities such as Dignowity Hill must be upfront and fully transparent with neighbors about their plans from the start.

“How are we to work with – and more importantly, trust – these people who come to our streets?” he added.

Cullen Jones, DHNA board secretary, told the Council that the association supports the downsized proposal. He said he was happy that Pryme Homes was willing enough to hear out concerned neighbors and make a few concessions.

Jones added that in many instances where a proposed development sparks controversy, the developer and opponents fail to communicate directly with each other.

“To have a compromise at the heart of conversation was so much more productive than the either/or argument that we often find ourselves in,” Jones said of the talks between Pryme Homes and neighbors.

Councilman Art Hall (D2) said the many residents who opposed the four-house proposal were “loud and clear.” He thanked neighbors and the developer for talking out their differences.

“To come to this agreement from that level of opposition is significant,” Hall added.

14 thoughts on “Council OKs Three-Home Project Planned for Dignowity Hill

  1. Why do San Antonians always oppose more dense housing? Don’t they realize that less dense housing is destroying our environment? We need to fit as many units as we can on lots in order to reduce sprawl and pollution.

    The opponents of the four unit plan owe an apology to the future generations that will have to endure the environmental degradation caused by selfish present generations that only care about their own convenience. Shameful.

    • OR… perhaps these people are worried about the heat island effect that comes with increased impervious cover. OR… perhaps they believe that reuse and renovation rather than throwing away the embodied energy of existing structures is a better choice (yes, I know that THIS lot was empty, but that has not always been the case).
      Going from 4 units to 3 is not something to cast shame on a neighborhood which is ALREADY doing their part. I think both they and the developer should be commended for devising this compromise.

    • Uber wealthy people own [the equity in] apartment buildings. Providing a variety of housing types, including triplexes and fourplexes allow for others to have to opportunity to have equity in an industry who’s prices have skyrocketed, too, AND it helps reduce the environment. There is more than single-family 1 unit and multifamily 80+ units. Thirdly, choosing the in between helps reduce economic segregation. Isn’t that what D2 wants to see happen? Less economic segregation?

      • These are not 3 and 4 plex rental units. They are individual structures, sold individually, at market rate (hence the IDZ). These are not affordable houses, they are what most people in San Antonio would consider luxury. Market rate would indicate their pricing at $300k and above. It would have been great to see a 3-4 unit rental complex go here instead of luxury housing.

      • This is not a tri-plex of four-plex. It is single family homes, sold individually, at market rate (hence IDZ zoning). That means $300k plus each. That is not affordable. It is luxury housing. It would have been better to have the 3-4 plex.

        • Resisting more housing isn’t going to make things more affordable, it’s just going to make prices rise more quickly than they otherwise would – just ask San Francisco how that worked for them (residents there have resisted new housing for decades and now no one can afford to live there). A rehabilitated existing home that is resold is also not “affordable” to your standards. And, a non-rehabilitated existing home is not “affordable” to your standards. Spending $200K on an existing home that needs a new roof, foundation, windows, electric, etc. turns out to be a $300K – $350K home.

          Housing filters, a new home that is in the $300k range today will be the affordable housing in 20 years. I am well aware we need more affordability now, but resisting more housing isn’t going to get us there. It will create circumstances where people with more money outbid those with less money for the existing housing we have, regardless of the quality of the home. The new housing gives those in the higher income bracket a choice which pulls them away from the housing at the lower price range. There are a lot more complexities to the values of homes and affordability, this is a simplification of the markets at play. But the overall point is that research and experience of other cities shows that not building enough housing and resisting housing leads to more displacement and higher home prices than building lots of housing. SA is growing, if you want it to grow out and want the inner city neighborhoods to be for the just the elite then keep supporting less housing near downtown.

    • Albert, Uber wealthy people own [the equity in] apartment buildings, people with net worth’s in the tens of millions. Quadreplexes and Triplexes increase the opportunity for regular people to obtain and gain equity which means they also help reduce economic segregation. Allowing more than the 1-Unit count of single-family and the 80+ Unit count of multifamily, gives those in the middle more opportunity. Isn’t that what you want for D2? To have more opportunity, less environmental waste, less segregation, i.e. a better future for the coming generations?

      Current candidates are trying to gain votes by promising ‘a fight’ for seniors to be exempt from property taxes, seems like this is what they think everyone wants. If it is, it also means keeping funds from the public school system. This, ontop of preventing more dense housing, which will add to the list of good we’re preventing future generations. How much more harm to ourselves to we want to keep doing?

    • I would love if these lots had small apartment buildings like you see in Chicago, NY, etc… But the NIMBYers who think neighborhoods should consist of only single family homes on large lots would scream bloody murder because it would make driving and parking in their neighborhood marginally more inconvenient.

      • You lost me as soon as you used a term to try and wrangle everyone who has a thought contrary to you as “NIMBY”. Choose your words more wisely next time you wish to make a point.

  2. I agree with Tom none of the new buildings are affordable.No matter what you say only high income folks will be able to buy.The rich get abatements from the city and county that the ordinary citizen doesnt get. Corporate welfare causes long time residents to move out.

  3. Blah Blah Blah -who lives in this area?-anyone who wrote comments?-I appreciate all the environmental commentary but Not One person Mentioned the most imply issue Here-ITS A HISTORIC NEIGHBORHOOD!!!! Let’s also not forget that if you want small house next to one another -go back to Chi/NY-not to mention let’s not forget why yr not living where you may have lived before-

  4. On another note -Mr Rivard if you want the whole story of how much we were completely left out of the discussion in this whole 321 n hackberry st project-get ahold of me through the Dignowity web site-Joseph Garcia-there is so much more about “how wronged-we the alley people-were made to feel n completely disregarded-

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