Today marks a critical day in Kerrville’s long history as the city council considers allowing 510 homes to be constructed on a 200-acre parcel south of town, adjacent to Riverhill neighborhoods.
This will not be an easy decision for the city council but in the end there were enough concessions made by the developer to make this project work. While there are legitimate reasons to be concerned about the project’s impact on traffic and other community services, we believe the benefits outweigh the negatives.
For those bringing a “Not In My Backyard” approach to planning, we appreciate your concerns, but ultimately this community needs additional housing. People want to live here, businesses want to do business here, and there is a critical shortage of housing in the community.
That combination alone makes this one of the most consequential projects ever to come before the city council.
Just last year the Kerrville State Hospital announced a major renovation and building program that would bring more than 200 new jobs, but one concern with the project is places for these workers to live. Anticipating the lack of workforce housing, the state planners anticipate busing workers from San Antonio to Kerrville. In addition, the U.S. Department of Agriculture will spend more than $50 million to upgrade the Knipling-Bushland U.S. Livestock Insects Research Laboratory, just north of Interstate 10 along Texas 16.
Later this month, Hobby Lobby will open its doors. That company plans to start its full-time workers at one of the highest wages locally for retail workers. Other retail projects are slated for the area in the coming months and years.
But if you consider the housing market right now and you’re shopping for a home under $300,000 you’re going to find it a difficult search. Just 35% of Kerrville’s housing market falls into pricing that is considered affordable for most employees, according to real estate websites Zillow and Realtor.
The rental market is even tougher with just a handful of apartments and condos available at any one time. While new construction is underway on the south of the Guadalupe River’s Lake Nimitz, there is still a significant shortage for multi-family residences. After years of inactivity when it came to building new apartments, there has been some movement over the last three years, but it’s worth arguing that we’re still in a deficit.
So, tonight the city council will hear a proposal from the developer, Chuck Cammack, who has made several concessions that include:
Streets to “stub out” or dead-end and not produce traffic into those established Riverhill neighborhoods.
An 8-foot-tall wooden fence adjacent to Riverhill as a privacy screen.
Agree not to construct duplexes, townhouses or “patio homes’’ in the development. Cammack said 40% of the more than 200 acres will be dedicated to open space.
In return, the developer wants rebates to ensure workforce housing is constructed.
The developer is seeking a 45% tax rebate to ensure workforce housing is constructed in the development that is priced at $227,000 or lower.
The builder, expected to be D.R. Horton, has given an indication the homes constructed will be similar to those built in San Antonio. The builder is also providing other assurances when it comes to the quality of the homes, along with their long-term upkeep.
10-year home warranties from the builder.
A property owner’s association to ensure the area is maintained post-construction.
75% of the construction will have masonry exteriors.
This is a solid outline and framework for what should be a successful project, and a step in the right direction for the future of Kerrville.