29 July 2010

Senior Targeted Apartments Open Doors for First Tenants

San Angelo Standard-Times

SAN ANGELO, Texas — River Place Apartments, San Angelo’s first apartment complex solely for low-income seniors, is opening its doors to its first tenants off Rio Concho Drive.

The 120-unit complex is about halfway complete, the developer, Granger MacDonald of Kerrville-based MacDonald Companies, said during a ribbon-cutting Tuesday.

“This is a start,” MacDonald said. “There were no affordable senior properties. There are lots of wonderful senior properties here but not for low-income seniors.”

MacDonald Companies has built 27 similar properties across the state, he said.

This is also not the developer’s first project in San Angelo. MacDonald built Bent Tree Apartments on Sunset Drive in 1997 for low-income families.

“He’s been a pacesetter, not only in Texas but nationally, building safe and decent places for people to live,” said Michael G. Gerber, executive director of the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs.

The TDHCA is the state agency that backs projects like River Place, and Gerber presented MacDonald with a check for $980,345, the total in tax credits the developer was due.

“This is just a beautiful property that serves a critical need,” Gerber said.

The tax credits are what make the deal viable, he said.

“This has been about as tough a year for housing development as we’ve seen,” Gerber said. “The builder is getting tax benefits, but at the same time the return is to build a property that benefits the people it is supposed to benefit.”

MacDonald said the one- and two-bedroom apartments are designed to compare favorably to any apartment complex. Ten percent of the units are equipped for people with disabilities, including the blind or deaf. All the units were built to be easily and quickly converted for accessibility.

The complex, which will be owned by MacDonald Properties and managed by Orion Real Estate Services, includes a clubhouse and a swimming pool.

“The first thing we learned building senior complexes was you’ve got to have lots of tables and chairs for all the potlucks and things residents are going to have,” MacDonald said.

Robert Salas, the city’s assistant director of development services, said the Texas apartment complex was part of the city’s five-year revitalization plan.

“Government cannot solve the problem long-term,” he said. “It takes all stakeholders, especially the private sector.”

Gerber credited state Rep. Drew Darby with helping to get the project for San Angelo.

“We always talk about providing opportunities to people who need a little leg up,” Darby said. “This is a wonderful example of state and federal and private property interests coming together to build this project.”

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