Photo by City of Austin
Tuesday December 21, 2021 by Kali Bramble
Councilor Pio Renteria remembers when he was able to buy his home in East Austin for just over $ 20,000. Now he got an offer to sell it for almost a million.
As a longtime East Austin resident, Renteria has experienced firsthand the whirlwind of change undergone by District 3. Although the battle has been uphill, Renteria says he continues to work to alleviate the cost crisis. of living in Austin and making affordable housing more accessible to its constituents.
The past year has seen the expansion of residential developments at Chalmers Courts, which Renteria plans to complete by next year. The complex, originally built as affordable housing during the Great Depression, has been completely renovated and has tripled in size since the project began in 2018. The new Pathways at Chalmers Court continues its long heritage, in collaboration with the Housing Authority of the City of Austin to provide housing for those living below 60 percent of the region’s median family income.
Renteria is also proud of the development of Plaza Saltillo, which continues to bring people to live, eat and shop along East Austin’s main transit corridor. This is a major transformation for the parcel of land spanning Third and Fourth Streets just east of Interstate 35, which is owned by the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority and was once an abandoned rail yard . A long story of investment and travel accelerated in 2017 with an agreement between the city, Capital Metro and Endeavor Real Estate to lease space for mixed-use development.
Renteria says the involvement of other stakeholders capped the affordable unit requirement at 18 percent (city-owned Mueller is Renteria’s gold standard at 25 percent). As a result, high-rise apartment complexes and major shopping destinations such as Whole Foods and Target have exploded in the surrounding area.
Renteria is also looking forward to the upcoming changes to Project Connect, which kicked off last November with the finalization of its Joint Powers Agreement. After many years of trudging along, Renteria says new rail lines that will better meet the needs of its constituents are finally on the horizon.
âI have been involved in our rail research for almost 30 years now,â he said. âI was on the initial trip our city funded to go observe rail systems in other cities: Houston; pi. Lauderdale; Washington DC; Toronto. I’ve seen so many amazing developments coming out of these systems in these cities, so when I came back I really started pushing for them here in Austin. This is how we crossed the red line – my constituents in East Austin are the ones who have come to show their support.
Although the railways are expected to take several years of construction, in the meantime Renteria is working to make its main arteries safer for pedestrians who use the existing infrastructure.
âI saw a few employees losing very close friends just as they walked down Riverside, through high speed cars jumping off sidewalks,â he said. In response to the deaths, Renteria’s office lowered the speed limit on Riverside and closed an outside lane for bus services.
Renteria is also proud of the Council’s efforts to relocate the city’s homeless population through Project HEAL, an effort that began before the special elections in May but became more urgent with the passage of the ban on camp. The HEAL team moved dozens of people from the now cleaned up camp of the Terrazas Library to temporary shelters in recently remodeled motels. Next on the HEAL team’s priority list will be to develop a path to permanent relocation for those who have been relocated.
One year into his second four-year term on Council, Renteria says the conversations he has most often revolve around the next generation of leaders in his district. âI have to start thinking about who I’m going to support! It’s a tremendous opportunity for growth.
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Posted in: City Council
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