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City to update 2013 housing study; Officials looking for HRA, Vision 2020 to partner on project

The Austin City Council is looking to have the most up-to-date information when it’s discussing a key economic development issue: housing.

The council voted unanimously at Monday’s regular meeting to officially spend up to $7,000 in contingency funds to hire Maxfield Research to update the city’s 2013 housing study.

“We’d like to update it so we have the most current information to solicit potential developers so they have the most accurate information possible,” City Administrator Craig Clark said.

This update will also help the city look more closely at specific tools and policies it can use to attract housing development and follow up on what it has done to date.

The city is looking to split the $14,000 cost of the study three ways with the Housing and Redevelopment Authority and Vision 2020.

City officials have identified housing as a key economic development challenge. That 2013 study outlined the need for nearly 300 rental units and 118 single family units by 2020. But as the city moves ahead, it will look to have the most up-to-date information on trends and Austin’s needs.

“If we want to have the best and most current information, we’d probably be warranted to go ahead to do the update now,” City Administrator Craig Clark said earlier this month.

The city approved the plan at an April 3 work session.

The city is approaching Vision 2020 about a possible partnership as it updates the housing study.

Housing continues to be one of the city’s key economic development focuses; however, it’s also a complex issue requiring a multi-faceted approach in solutions.

While Austin’s made headway through things like the Science Park apartment project and a housing tax abatement, which has been offered in partnership with Mower County and Austin Public Schools, there’s still a long way to go.

Clark has said the housing tax abatement saw a good start last year, but they’re waiting to see how it carries forward into this spring’s construction season.

The city is also taking steps in partnership with the Austin Housing and Redevelopment Authority on the Fox Pointe development, which would feature 38 town homes in an area north of Wal-Mart.