GlobeSt.com, December 29, 2020
HOUSTON—Local nonprofit Avenue recently gathered with Mayor Sylvester Turner and other supporters for a socially distanced groundbreaking to mark the start of vertical construction on much-needed new affordable rental housing for Houston’s working families. The new development, Avenue on 34th, is a mixed-income multifamily community located in the Oak Forest neighborhood.
Located at 2136 West 34th St., Avenue on 34th is designed to be a freestanding four-story multifamily building offering 70 mixed-income units on 2.1 acres in North Houston. Project delivery is anticipated in mid-2022 and Avenue has partnered with Block Companies, which is serving as general contractor on the project.
“We are delighted to advance construction on Avenue on 34th at a time when affordable housing with proximity to the Inner Loop is such a critical need among working families. The influx of new developments in and around the city’s urban core has resulted in the demolition of existing lower cost housing and, as a result, has priced low and middle-income families out of many communities,” said Mary Lawler, executive director at Avenue. “Data shows that affordable homes help strengthen families and communities as a whole, providing families with a path forward to greater financial stability and improved health outcomes.”
Highlighting the critical need for affordable development in the Oak Forest area, Lawler pointed to the United Way of Great Houston’s recent ALICE report, which found that 47% of Greater Houston Area families are struggling to make ends meet. That includes almost 25% of the nearly 11,000 households in Oak Forest’s 77018 ZIP code that qualify as ALICE.
Asset-Limited Income-Constrained Employed/ALICE families represent members of the Houston community whose household income is above the federal poverty level, but insufficient to cover basic necessities such as housing, child care, food, transportation and healthcare.
Avenue on 34th features 23 one-bedroom apartments, 27 two-bedroom apartments and 20 three-bedroom apartments, with sizes ranging from 706 square feet to 1,201 square feet. While 14 units will be offered at unrestricted market rate, income-restricted units will be designated for families making $35,000 to $65,000 annually. In addition to amenities such as an outdoor play space, learning center and activity room, business center and fitness room, Avenue on 34th will offer a host of resident services including after-school tutoring for children, and credit-building and homebuyer education programs for adults. Preserved green space on the property including mature trees will also encourage flood resiliency.
“Avenue on 34th is being developed in an ideal location for the future residents,” Lawler tells GlobeSt.com. “The Oak Forest community is in the city’s urban core, less than 10 miles from downtown Houston, offering residents proximity to employment opportunities, supermarkets and schools, as well as transit options connecting Oak Forest to other core districts. We are delighted to have the opportunity to provide high-quality affordable housing for area families in a diverse community that is growing and thriving.”
Development of Avenue on 34th is made possible through a mix of public and private funding including 4% low-income housing tax credits through the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs. Additional funders include primary lender Amegy Bank, as well as Houston Housing Finance Corporation, Houston Housing and Community Development Department, and Hunt Capital Partners through its multi-investor fund HCP 41 which included Aetna, a CVS Health company. Additional project partners include Northfield Design Associates, Jones & Carter and Falon Land Studio.
“Amegy Bank lends and invests millions of dollars annually to develop plans that support neighborhood revitalization, economic development and affordable housing,” said Devin Hancock, Amegy senior vice president of commercial real estate lending. “Avenue’s work to build affordable homes and strengthen communities makes a continuous and lasting impact in our city, and we look forward to accomplishing more with our local community partners.”
During the past 29 years, Avenue has helped revitalize Houston neighborhoods by leveraging more than $124 million in investments for developments, including 200 single-family homes, 756 rental units and 180,000 square feet of commercial space. Avenue has been recognized nationally with the prestigious Jack Kemp Excellence in Affordable and Workforce Housing Award from Urban Land Institute.
As part of its work on the Avenue on 34th development, Block Companies will host a Community Day and Job Fair in February 2021, offering information on employment opportunities for a variety of local construction-related positions. The event is free to attend and open to the public.