East Riverside residents alarmed by rezoning proposal for taller buildings

Austin

Rezoning applications filed for five apartment properties along East Riverside Drive have residents concerned about affordable housing slowly disappearing in the area.

In March, attorney Michael Whellan filed the rezoning applications to Austin’s Planning and Zoning Department.

They cover 97 acres of property at East Riverside Drive and South Pleasant Valley Road, which includes the Ballpark Apartment communities and Town Lake Apartments.

The proposed zoning would allow developers to build higher buildings and mix-use developments.

Many residents at the Ballpark Apartments told KXAN they received a letter from the city, notifying them about the rezoning application.

“As soon as I saw what the letters were, I knew what it meant,” said Andrea Alfaro, one of the residents at the Ballpark Apartment.

She said even though Ballpark is advertised as student housing, many families and young professionals live there as well. She said it’s one of the few remaining places near downtown that are affordable. “Even when I was living in west campus, I paid twice as much as I pay here,” Alfaro explained. 

According to Whellan, the 97-acre site has 1,308 apartment units right now. If rezoning is approved, he said the site could have up to 4,709 multi-family units, 600 hotel rooms, 4 million square feet of office space.

“I think walkability is super important,” Alfaro said. “I understand that Austin is a growing city and we’re coming here every single day, but I think that developers are not looking at the impact of where they’re proposing these places.”

Alfaro said many neighbors are worried the rezoning will wipe out the current affordable apartments. 

“If Riverside is gone, and it’s not affordable, it’s like the Domain area, what’s going to happen to those students? Where are they going to move to?” Alfaro said.

City officials told us the rezoning application would need the Planning Commission and City Council’s approval before the developers can proceed.

They’ll also have to have a public hearing, but at this point, it’s too early to say when that will happen.

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