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2017 Bond Watch: Facilities Committee Finalizes $120M Recommendation to Council

Two more citizen committees overlooking proposals for San Antonio’s 2017 bond completed their work this past week. The Facility Improvements Committee voted Dec. 6 to approve a package for the planned $850 million bond issue. The facility improvements package includes about $120 million in proposals, including a Center City police substation and park police headquarters; a District 9 constituent services and senior center; a replacement for Fire Station No. 24 in the Austin Highway area; and a District 4 Heritage Community Center.

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Other projects include: the city’s contributions toward improving the Alamo Plaza area; a cultural arts center for the World Heritage/Missions site; Wheatley Heights Community Center; and improvements at four public library branches. In its final meeting, the committee rejected a proposal to decrease funds for upgrades at the athletic complex on the main UTSA campus. The committee did pass reductions from Wheatley Heights and the Alamo area to help fund smaller projects, such as the development of two East Side community centers and structural improvements at Market Square.

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The Neighborhood Improvements Committee voted Dec. 8 to recommend 13 distressed areas for possible redevelopment for affordable housing. This mark’s the city’s first attempt at collecting voter-approved bond funds to help facilitate affordable housing around town. The select areas include the Five Points (Fredericksburg Road/North Flores area and into the near West Side; around AT&T Center/Freeman Coliseum; Roosevelt Avenue/Mission Reach; Edgewood and part of Wurzbach Road.

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The committee also included Oak Hollow on the Northwest Side. Oak Hollow includes two properties. One is privately owned and includes a mobile home park where raw sewage problems have led to publicized acrimony for residents there. The select areas would be put into an urban renewal plan, which the City Council seeks to adopt in the next month or two. If approved, up to $20 million in bond money would be used by the city’s urban renewal agency to buy distressed properties in those areas. The city would do environmental remediation, demolish obsolete structures and fix infrastructure on those properties. The city would offer those properties for sale to developers interested in providing affordable housing and/or mixed-use/mixed-income development. City officials have said demand for housing, especially affordable homes for working class individuals, is on the rise with the city’s population continuing to grow.

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