Back after the November holiday break, the Austin City Council will meet Thursday and take up nearly 120 items, ranging from taking the first steps on a new density bonus program to increasing funding for the renovations of two city-owned hotels slated to be housing units for the homeless.
Here’s what we’re watching this week.
Hotels slated to house the homeless need more funding
The City Council will vote Thursday on more funding to get Pecan Gardens, formerly the Candlewood Suites hotel, operating as permanent supportive housing units for individuals experiencing homelessness.
The city of Austin in 2021 purchased the Candlewood Suites hotel in northwest Austin for around $9.5 million. Two years later — after security issues and opposition from local groups like “MOVE Candlewood” — the facility near U.S. 183 and the Texas 45 toll road has not yet been opened to the public.
Following the discovery of structural issues like mold and drainage problems, the City Council will vote Thursday on additional funding just under $2.7 million for Family Eldercare, the group tasked with renovating and eventually operating the property in Northwest Austin.
Additionally, the city says just under $400,000 is needed for renovations at the Bungalows at Century Park, formerly known as the Texas Bungalows Hotel & Suites, which is slated to be fully furnished efficiency apartments for individuals experiencing homelessness.
The council recommendation for action cites costs associated with electrical upgrades and construction price increases related to fencing, flooring and landscaping.
The City Council will vote Thursday to amend its contract with Integral Care, who is renovating and will operate Bungalows at Century Park, by increasing available funding no more than $397,002.
Funding for both hotels, if approved by the City Council on Thursday, will come from the city Housing Department’s capital budget.
Density bonus program for the construction of police, fire, EMS stations
The City Council will vote on a resolution that would initiate conversations around creating a new density bonus program that would give incentives to developers to donate land to the city specifically for use of public safety stations.
District 6 Council Member Mackenzie Kelly, who is the lead sponsor on the resolution, told the American-Statesman: “I don’t believe that it’s sustainable long term for the city of Austin taxpayers to be buying property and land and building police, fire and EMS stations.”
The resolution has garnered support on the dais — council members José ”Chito” Vela, Ryan Alter and José Velásquez signing on as co-sponsors. If passed, the resolution would not change city code. Rather, it would direct the city manager to draft an ordinance related to the item to be voted on at a later date.
“It is absolutely a community benefit to have adequate police, fire and EMS response, and I think that this will help ease the burden of taxpayers when building those properties,” Kelly said.
This article originally appeared on Austin American-Statesman: Candlewood hotel density bonus program on Austin City Council agenda