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Neighborhood opposes East Austin development plan changes

East César Chavez against Plaza Saltillo proposal

Proposed changes to the developing Plaza Saltillo project just east of IH-35 between East Fourth and East Fifth streets are meeting opposition from the East César Chavez community, where the project is located. The city’s Planning Commission voted to recommend the changes at a meeting in January.

The East Cesar Chavez Neighborhood Planning Team, the official community contact group for the area, announced in a press release Wednesday that the neighborhood, which supported the plan before the most recent proposed changes, would voice its opposition when the commission’s recommendation is presented to the Austin City Council at Thursday’s meeting.

The new plan, which would require zoning changes and modification of the neighborhood plan, was proposed by developer group Endeavor Real Estate Group and Columbus Realty Partners and presented in conjunction with the city’s Neighborhood Housing and Community Development programs administrators. The land is owned by Capital Metro.

The proposed changes would allow the addition of a 125-foot office tower and a reduction of the number of affordable apartment units from 200 to 141, with 41 available in the project’s first phase and the remaining 100 to be completed five years later. Planning Commission approved this request, which now goes before Council.

Endeavor’s original design included 800 apartment units, 25 percent of which were to be affordable. The company offered to build the 200 affordable units in exchange for a height increase that would be capped at 60 feet.

ECCPT summarized its opposition in a media advisory:

While residents support the development, they say the proposed changes represent a major reversal on Endeavor’s promise of affordable housing. They further assert that no added community benefit can result from the proposed 125-foot tower. Moreover, the height increase will set a troubling precedent for downtown encroachment into East Austin. Neighbors want to hold Endeavor to its original promises of affordable housing and community-compatible, human-scale building height.

Council is scheduled to discuss the recommendation after 2 p.m. Thursday.