Rent relief?

Affordable apartments on track for increasingly unaffordable East Austin

Affordable apartments heading to increasingly unaffordable East Austin

Talavera apartments east austin
The development is underway near the Plaza Saltillo rail station. Rendering courtesy of DMA Development Co. LLC

A loft project promising 90 affordable apartments is coming to ever-pricier East Austin. DMA Development Co. LLC expects to break ground in early 2020 on Talavera Lofts at East Fifth and Navasota streets, with the project ready for occupancy in early 2021. The five-story building will be just west of the Plaza Saltillo commuter rail station.

In a release, DMA says 90 of the 92 units will offer rents aimed at people with incomes ranging from roughly 30 percent to 60 percent of the area’s median income. At the 60 percent level, the current median income is $56,760 a year for a family of four.

An estimate of how much the rents will be isn’t available, though Janine Sisak, senior vice president and general counsel of Austin-based DMA Cos., the parent company of DMA Development Co., says rents will be based on income data published annually by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

As she explains, “The rents we would charge today are completely different than those we will be able to charge under the program when units are ready for occupancy in two years.”

Talavera Lofts, designed by Austin architecture firm Nelsen Partners Inc., will mostly feature studio apartments, along with one-, two- and three-bedroom units. The largest apartments will be approximately 1,200 square feet.

DMA has developed other affordability-conscious apartment projects in the Austin area, including Wildflower Terrace, Aldrich 51, and The Nightingale at Goodnight Ranch.

The Talavera Lofts project is emerging as the Austin area continues to grapple with housing affordability.

An April report from Apartment List puts the affordability predicament into perspective. At the time, the median rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Austin was $1,426, according to Apartment List. That meant a local renter would need gross annual income of $57,040 to pay rent without being cost-burdened — defined as spending more than 30 percent of gross income on rent. In 2018, the estimated median household income in Austin was $65,756.