SAN ANTONIO - After several years of turmoil, progress is being made on the reimagined Alazan Courts on the near Westside.
The Courts have been the subject of discontent from residents who are desperate for better living conditions.
For Pearl Antu, a single mother who has lived at Alazan for five years, help can't come soon enough.
"I have four kids in a two-bedroom right now," she says.
Antu pays just $115 a month to live at Alazan. She was pleased to learn her rent won't go up when the $120-$150 million renovation project is complete.
"I'm happy with how it's going," she says. "It's just that there's still a couple of things that we're getting around to."
Since architectural firm Able City took over the design portion of rebuilding the dilapidated 83-year-old complex with Opportunity Home (formerly the San Antonio Housing Authority), residents have been pleased their opinions are being used in the new plans.
"I'm very impressed with the way that Opportunity Home and Able City have interacted with tenants," says Kayla Miranda, another Alazan-Apache Courts resident. "I think there's a little more on the community side that could be improved. I have my reservations on the designs. They will be knocking down several buildings that are currently in flood plains."
She's also concerned about green space.
"The problem that we really have is 1. the loss of green space, and 2. the effect it's going to have on traffic and parking," she says. "And the heat islands in the neighborhood. The less green space, the hotter it gets."
The latest community feedback session starts at 4 p.m. today. Tenants get to see how the design is evolving.
"All of the feedback is absolutely necessary for this process," says Mario Pena, a partner at Able City.
He says balancing the needs of historical preservationists with residents - who were adamant about not moving out while the rebuild occurs - has been a challenge.
Safety and security, along with keeping a family atmosphere top the tenants' wish list.
"The internal workings of a project like this, there's definitely bumps in the road," Pena says.
One positive has been the creation of more apartments. There are 501 in the current configuration.
"Through this design, we're able to take that up a little bit and offer more public housing in San Antonio, which is absolutely necessary," he says.
The final number could be as many as 575.
Public feedback on the project will be accepted through November. Construction on the first 90 units could begin by the midde of 2023.
The rebuilld could take more than eight years to complete, depending on how bond money flows into the project.
"Opportunity Home submitted a $56 million application for City of San Antonio Housing Bond funds which includes helping to create new, income-based housing in the Alazan neighborhood which will serve families in the lowest area median income levels in the city," says Mike Reyes, spokesman for Opportunity Homes.
Other new affordable public housing projects in the works include Victoria Commons (which is south of HemisFair Park), Springview (on the Eastside), Lincoln Heights (Westside) and the Mirasol neighborhood consisting of 25 single-family homes in Villa de Fortuna, Palm Lake and the Sunflower subdivisions.
Click here and here for previous stories on Alazan.