Urban Renewal BoardJan. 13, 2020

Item 3.b - General Stakeholder Comments Jan 2019 — original pdf

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BLOCKS 16 AND 18 RFP GENERAL COMMENTS Comment and/or Recommendation February 11, 2019 1 Partner Actively with GNDC, Blackshear, Blackand D.C.'S Give them a say in housing 1. Affordable Grocery Store. It's a food desert. 2. Document the history of Robertson Hill that’s being erased. Define the following terms: "priority needs"/"more welcoming"/"impact" Baseline positive “impact” requirements: 1. Compatibility of maximum heights, intensity of uses, light and sound pollution with adjacent residential and cultural uses and historic assets; and 2. Long-term dedication of space for existing and new local businesses at affordable rates, as well as for on-grade programmable public space • Specify “Permanent and temporary jobs.” • Prioritize services not yet present on the corridor that are compatible with all adjacent uses, such as a pharmacy and a pick-up/drop-off drycleaners. • Hew to plain intent and letter of URP; no variances or bonus entitlements-such as to maximum height, FAR, setbacks, protection of heritage trees. Affordable Housing What is the baseline affordable housing requirement from which additional units will be gauged? Per forum-25%. Ownership unis at 60% MFI for 99 year and below should be weighted significantly higher than current proposed criteria (+5 points) Community Parking Prioritize projects with a holistic parking demand management program that includes: Public parking to support existing local businesses Innovative approach to accommodating alternative modes of transportation, bus, bike locks, bike showers, scooters, Vespas, commercial loading zone, etc.; and A mix of uses on-site that balance 24/7 demand of parking Minority and women owned business Theses points should be all-or-nothing based on: 1. Meeting a quantitative baseline % participation; and 2. Executed partnership agreements (MOU’s?) at time of application Please clarify requirements for City projects/state regulations and aim to match them. 2 3 4 5 6 Page 1 of 7 BLOCKS 16 AND 18 RFP GENERAL COMMENTS Comment and/or Recommendation February 11, 2019 Green Building 2 Star/Silver should be a baseline requirement for submission; 5 points for Gold Star Reward incorporation of alternative energy (such as solar) on-site Other Public Benefits Baseline requirement for award consideration: demonstrated timely, substantive engagement with RHNA, OCEAN and Six Square. Demonstrated community support (15 points) – letters of support from all of the following: RHNA, OCEAN and Six Square. We urge the board to set specific, baseline qualifications for proposal consideration that reflect community needs and priorities. Requiring upfront what our community and the city most value should help ensure that the board garners only quality proposals that significantly advance revitalization goals, and that the truly superior projects stand out in sharp relief for delivering substantially more benefit. 1. Require documentation that Request for Proposal respondents and unsolicited bidders meet in a timely, substantive manner with Robertson Hill Neighborhood Association, OCEAN and Six Square between submission and any meeting where you intend to take action on recommendations regarding disposition of the blocks; and 2) that letters of support from these organizations earn a meaningful number of points in relation to other scoring criteria that you set. Please ensure that there is a public meeting to discuss proposals and receive community input, and please ensure that the community has ample time to review proposed projects before making a recommendation to Council for disposition. In the past, respondents have been reluctant to share their proposals in public meetings with community groups, citing concerns about proprietary information. Once proposals have been submitted, respondents should be required to demonstrate timely and substantive engagement with RHNA, OCEAN and Six Square to ensure these stakeholder organizations can provide thoughtful, informed input to URB and Council. Please specify what project information must be shared with community groups and by what date. 7 8 9 10 11 Page 2 of 7 BLOCKS 16 AND 18 RFP GENERAL COMMENTS Comment and/or Recommendation February 11, 2019 • Address providing affordable housing in general, but consider specific programs that might recruit creative industries professionals to live in the neighborhood...live/work spaces for artists/musicians, etc. • Because none of previous development has addressed cultural preservation, plans going forward should have this as a priority • Mixed-use development should seek to create synergistic spaces that incorporate arts, music, culture, creative industries • In addition to the elements contained in the URP and Urban Renewal Agency’s work, the goals of the African American Quality of Life Initiative and the creation of the Cultural Heritage District should have weight for consideration as well • New development should incorporate public performance space, publicly accessible green space/amphitheater, street-level public gathering space • Perhaps seek to designate a space (without the intention of it being a profit center, but a creative/cultural communities-serving center) that might recruit and house in one space organizations such as Six Square, other East Austin arts and culture organizations, KAZI, Spectrum Theater Group, DiverseArts, and etc. and bring them together to SPECIFICALLY generate cultural content and programming to promote contemporary East Austin culture AND preserve the historical legacy of the African American community that founded the neighborhood • Major focus should also be on “neighborhood-serving” retail and services • Going forward, include creative industries professionals and cultural preservationists and historians in the group of Stakeholders asked to submit ideas • In proposal scoring matrixes, include a section that adds points for addressing issues of cultural promotion and preservation, • Perhaps empanel an advisory group to work on these issue WITH the Urban Renewal Agency • Will the process of liquidating the remaining URB properties be conducted via RFP or Unsolicited Proposal? Will there be a firm policy statement on this issue? 12 13 Local businesses, coffee shops/restaurants, retail, services, benefits for area, Park/recreation. No thanks to: highrises, no national chains, storage facility, pawnshops, only residential 14 developments 15 Would community parking be a garage? Page 3 of 7 25% affordable housing is unacceptable because of the other housing that does not have any or very minimal. Could we have 50% affordable housing? A higher % would actually make a change. BLOCKS 16 AND 18 RFP GENERAL COMMENTS Comment and/or Recommendation February 11, 2019 I believe the objectives articulated for Blocks 16 and 18 were noble and virtuous, but out of touch with the actual concerns and needs of the neighborhood. With respect, it seemed like an attempt by well intentioned people who don’t live here to adopt a “one size fits all” approach to two very unique properties. First, it must be acknowledged that in this corridor, the north side of 11th street is completely commercial, while the north side of Juniper is almost completely single family residential. Placing two high density mixed used developments in between these two streets would be completely out of character with the neighborhood. It also seems clear than anything built here will not be more than 4 or 5 stories tall. Second, you mentioned parking as an “issue.” However, parking isn’t an issue for those of us who live here, it’s an issue for businesses who want more customers. For the neighborhood, traffic congestion is a bigger issue. Any kind of high density residential project is this area will only worsen traffic congestion. And probably only exacerbate an already bad parking situation. Any development of these blocks should take into account the impact of the resulting traffic on these two single lane roadways. And please don’t assume the new residents will just ride bikes or scooters or buses. Affordable housing is a noble idea but it will be minimally impactful at these sites. In the Juniper townhouse development you settled for 2 affordable units out of 16 built. Today, almost 3 years after being taken over by Austin Revitalization, both sit vacant. You said you settled for 10% affordable on the 12th street property under development, or one unit. These won’t make a difference. Block 16 and 18 are unique and valuable properties. I would suggest that Austin look at development parameters that: 1. Emphasize commercial development on 11th street. The neighborhood needs smaller businesses such as a pharmacy and a bookstore. 2. Provide for low to medium density residential on Juniper (eg duplexes or townhouses) 3. Consider banning street parking on both streets to alleviate traffic congestion. 4. Do everything it can to maximize the value of these two lots, then use the proceeds to provide for a meaningful quantity of affordable housing in a more suitable nearby location. The plan you presented could give us more bars/restaurants/donut stores on the lower level and high density apartments or condos on the upper levels. This will be completely out of character with the neighborhood and would just add more noise and traffic congestion to the area. We don’t want to become Sixth Street. The development on the block between blocks 16 and 18 is a perfect model for the neighborhood. I suggest you do your best to emulate this on 16 and 18. I do completely agree with requirements that the developments be architecturally compatible with, if not sensitive to, the surrounding historic structures in the area. 16 17 Page 4 of 7 BLOCKS 16 AND 18 RFP GENERAL COMMENTS Comment and/or Recommendation February 11, 2019 So, I'm the guy that got a little more than upset at the entire thing. I realize I was a hair incendiary, but I hold firm that the absolute last thing these blocks needs is more apartments/condos. There's an endless number of both being built in the city. My block of homes will be MASSIVELY effected by them, and there's basically no way they'll provide ample parking for the area. It will make Franklin's untenable (and it already is) and it will do absolutely nothing to stem gentrification in the area. I'm not going to have a long conversation about the ethics of gentrification because it's a moot subject. The situation has already happened. There's a 1.2M home across the street from me that will get swept up by some white couple in either med or tech and that's just whatever. It's where we are as a city. 20 new apartments changes precisely nothing. Some quick background - I've lived in some of the least gentrified places in America (Baltimore, Prince George's County,etc) and some of the MOST gentrified (Chandler/Phoenix, Miami Beach, Richmond, VA) - and the one thing that holds true with all of them - once gentrification happens, reversing it is basically impossible without absolute control by the local government making damn sure it happens. I repeat, twenty units is nothing. We'll get 100-200 more units that will be filled with either privileged college / tech kids (provided they're apartments) or people who want a better property value line (provided they're condos). It'll screw up the entire skyline over here, which is you know, non-existent at the moment - and that's kind of nice) or mess with views of the city (completely preventable). I see no reason why the city wouldn't want to keep these two extremely valuable lots and turn them - at least for the next few years into a large well-maintained food truck park - which WOULD bring in minority owned businesses - particularly spanish and east asian, as they already have - and turn the other into just a straight up park / gathering area. Alternatively the city could build something here with the ample funds you mentioned and just lease the buildings out to arts / cultural things. Involve the African American center on the first lot, and Victory grill on the second. The options are basically endless, but another stupid Amli does nothing but ruin the area. Might as well just park a giant Starbucks sign over Central East Austin - which, might I remind you - even with these 2 poorly kept lots was still voted one of the 10 best communities IN AMERICA by multiple reputable outlets last year. In league with places in San Fran, New York, and Seattle. Apartments kill any possibility of that sort of desire continuing to exist. We are not the Caesar Chavez / Saltillo Plaza area. We are almost exclusively small businesses and single family homes. If you really care about Central East Austin, you'll allow some of us to enlist into the RFP process to see what's being offered. Or take "Apartments" off the table completely. It's an absolute waste of the lots and they're going to be absolute trash apartments the moment demand decreases, which it will because downtown is rapidly heading towards New York/San Fran style compression rather than LA. If city council/whoever decides to bury I35, these apartments would be an absolute killing blow for the entire neighborhood. I realize you've probably already made your decision, I just wanted to make it perfectly clear you made that wrong one if it's apartments with crappy retail at the bottom. In the meeting last week one person expressed strong opposition to more apartments and condos. I don’t agree with him. We need more housing, and especially affordable house. But we need community spaces where people can be together in public. There should be a balance so that the area does not become only blocks and blocks of apartments. We also need groceries! We should be able to walk to a grocery store. 18 19 Page 5 of 7 BLOCKS 16 AND 18 RFP GENERAL COMMENTS Comment and/or Recommendation February 11, 2019 • strongly recommend against a five story building, especially with primary focus being multi family/residential; we are incredibly passionate about this point and have discussed with other neighbors who did not attend the meeting, who also agree on this point and are willing to advocate in support o blocks views and sun from neighborhood homes o adds population density to a corridor that doesn't have sufficient businesses/infrastructure to serve the already existing community o increases traffic and parking challenges o changes the dynamic and feel of the artsy, local east-side community • strongly recommend service based business and community use spaces o food/beverage based businesses (coffee shops, restaurants, juice bars, etc.) o fitness/wellness based businesses (ex. fitness studio, massage, acupuncture, etc.) o health/service based businesses (ex. barbers, opticians, dentists, etc.) o retail (ex. book stores, product based local shops, etc.) o parks, community gathering areas, food truck park 1) a commitment to affordable housing. I am unsure of the specific amount, but no less than 25 percent. 2) a synergy with Six Square and any other historical/preservation entities and a commitment to memorialize places of historical significance that stand to be diminished in any way. 3) a commitment to small, local businesses to have space and to be able to compete on the same level as chain businesses 4) a commitment to make jobs available to those who live in the area 5) a commitment to establish relationships (i.e. partnerships, mentoring opportunities) with nearby AISD (non-charter) schools. This relationship also might provide internships/part time jobs for high school students. Block 16 Comment / Recommendation 1 Demonstrated community support of groups housed in the AACHF Block 18 Comment / Recommendation 1 Resolve existing egress enchroachment and underground utility issues for Historic Victory Grill and ensure its preservation. 2 Reserve and enhance Kenny's Backyard *Is it possible to keep an outdoor music venue? We really enjoy the music from Kenny Dorham's Backyard. • The Block 18/Kenny Dorham’s space should be allowed to remain in operation until the property has been sold and the timeline dictates that site prep needs to begin. • Going forward, if not specially Kenny Dorham’s Backyard, some facility based on this model should be incorporated into whatever development plan is accepted for Block 18 Page 6 of 7 20 21 3 4 5 6 7 • Make Block 18 an intentional and specific destination for arts, culture, music, cultural preservation, and creative industries for the District • Though commercial in nature, Block 18 development should intentionally incorporate the Victory Grill Building (and the historic legacy of the venues and businesses that once populated these blocks) into a plan for this block to function as a Cultural Hub that pays homage to what once was the center of the Central East Austin Entertainment District BLOCKS 16 AND 18 RFP GENERAL COMMENTS Comment and/or Recommendation February 11, 2019 Page 7 of 7