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Developer to offer Austin ISD teachers home at reduced cost

The developer of The Grove at Shoal Creek announced it will set aside a portion of affordable homes for AISD teachers.
Aerial image of a lot which developers want to turn into The Grove at Shoal Creek.

AUSTIN -- The developers of a new community in Central Austin announced a deal that will save Austin Independent School District teachers hundreds of thousands of dollars on the purchase of a new home.

AISD teachers make an average of $46,000 a year. In the booming Capitol City, that's not exactly enough to buy a house. The most recent information from the Austin Board of Realtors show the median home price is $270,000. The gap is a prime example of Austin's affordability problem.

"The median income in Austin over the last 25 years has doubled, but the housing prices have quadrupled," noted Austin City Council Member Sheri Gallo, District 10.

An empty field near the intersection of 45th Street and Bull Creek Road holds opportunity for teachers. If the city approves the plan, the 75-acre lot will become The Grove at Shoal Creek, a mixed-used community with more than 1,200 homes plus businesses and park space all surrounded by AISD schools. 

"There are at least 14 schools within five miles of this radius," said AISD School Board Trustee Julie Cowen, District 4, "that are AISD schools. And they have more than 850 teachers."

Living in The Grove would put educators in the very communities they teach, but according to the developer, the median home price for the area is $544,000. That's out of the reach for most educators, but The Grove is giving them a deal.    

The development will have 180 homes designated as affordable housing. Of those units, 104 will be rental units for families earning 30-80 percent of the Median Family Income (MFI). For a family of four, that's between $24,250 and $66,400 a year. Rent on those properties will be $432-$1,200 per month. The other 76 units will be a combination of houses and condos available for purchase. Those will be priced between $180,000 and $250,000 for families earning 80-120 percent of the MFI or below and 19 of the homes are solely for AISD teachers. 

"Nineteen is significant and I think if we can do this not only at the Grove but at other developments as well it will make an impact," said Kelly Weiss, President & CEO of Community Wheelhouse.

Developers say the homes will remain affordable because the land will be turned over to a Community Land Trust. 

"Teachers are especially challenged when they want to buy a home in parts of the city where land values are very high. Through this truly innovative program, we can help meet the needs of AISD and the broader community by helping some teachers live closer to the schools and communities that they serve all at no cost to AISD," said The Grove Co-Owner Garrett Martin.

The district hasn't yet decided which teachers will get the deal, but will likely have a lottery or offer them on a first-come, first-serve basis. 

Developers have had delays in getting city approval for the project but hope to be approved within the next three months. If all goes according to plan, crews will break ground on The Grove at Shoal Creek early next year.

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