HOUSTON – Houston’s city council announced Thursday that a $15 million loan to help fund a development project that aims to build an affordable housing complex in the Greenspoint area has been approved.
The Summit at Renaissance Park, which is expected to cost $77 million, is set to be built on part of the site that currently houses the Greenspoint Mall. The development project will be placed on the southeast side of the lost, which previously housed a Sears Auto Center.
The money used to fund the loan came from a grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
In Greenspoint, which flooded significantly on the Tax Day Flood of 2016, city officials hope the project will lead to revitalization among other flash flooding incidents.
“It’s a large need when you think of the site,” said Ray Miller, assistant director of the Multi-Family and Public Facilities for the city of Houston Housing and Community Development Department.
The $15 million loan does not require the developer, TXZNH, LLC, to repay the principal amount, but the terms of the agreement calls for the developer to pay 1% annual interest on the loan for 40 years.
Greenspoint Mall, which is mainly vacant, is one of the higher elevated points of the area. Greenspoint is the most densely populated neighborhood in the city, with many of the apartment complexes being built along Greens Bayou. Flooding is a major concern for residents in the area. City officials said building a complex on higher ground is necessary. Miller said the complex will be built according to today’s flood code standards.
“This deal will be subject to all the new Chapter 19 requirements that have been implemented since after Harvey,” Miller said.
While the council approved the $15 million loan, there were concerns that the deal was finalized without proper input from the community.
Councilwoman Tarsha Jackson, who represents District B, said the developer didn’t speak with her about the project until this week. Before the vote, Jackson stressed the importance of input when proposing projects that would affect the community.
During the council meeting, Mayor Sylvester Turner said those concerns would be addressed going forward.
“These kinds of projects are developed because of a windfall of federal dollars that come to cities after climate disaster like Hurricane Harvey,” said Zoe Middleton, southeast Texas co-director of Texas Housers.
While Middleton could not speak on the specifics of the Greenspoint Project, she said Texas Housers was in the early stages of a study examining where federal flood mitigation dollars are being allocated toward affordable housing and the community’s needs are.
“This money can be used to reshape our city to build it better, to make it more equitable and resilient. The only way to ethically develop a project like that is through meaningful community engagement,” Middleton said.
The Greenspoint project is expected to take two years to complete, with the goal of construction being done by the end of 2023.