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New Alamo Drafthouse project hits snag over affordable housing

Planning Commission postpones vote on Baker Center rezoning

Three-story limestone schoolhouse
The Baker Center
Via Google Images

Alamo Drafthouse Cinema’s plan to redevelop a former AISD property in Hyde Park hit a snag at this week’s Planning Commission meeting, Community Impact Newspaper reported Tuesday night.

The school district approved the $10.6 million sale of the Baker Center, located at 3908 Avenue B, to the Drafthouse in November. The property is one of several AISD put on the market in the fall of 2016, requesting proposals to buy, lease, or develop them in a manner in some way beneficial to the public.

A rezoning proposal for the property was pulled from the commission’s consent agenda Tuesday when it became clear that there was no plan for housing on the site, CI reported. According to the newspaper, the Hyde Park Neighborhood Contact Team, which voted in favor of the project in December, and members of the commission were under the impression that AISD agreed to sell the property to the Drafthouse because it was to include the affordable housing to be offered to district employees in its redevelopment of the site, where it also intended to relocate its headquarters.

Architect Richard Weiss, representing the Drafthouse, told the commission that the original proposal was to make 25 percent of any onsite housing affordable, but the inclusion of housing in the project was not guaranteed.

Community Impact published a section of the commission’s agenda item that indicates it was under the impression that the Alamo Drafthouse planned to develop single-family housing at the site and had agreed to a restrictive covenant addressing affordability and AISD employees at the sale closing.

The Planning Commission voted to postpone the rezoning vote until March 13 with Weiss’s consent, but the architect said the deal would probably not move forward if the item did not reach the City Council by March 22, according to CI.

Alamo Drafthouse’s Baker Center project stalled after architect says affordable housing not guaranteed [CI]