Town will get 6 bids to redevelop vacant Home Depot house developing ‘not habitable’ for homeless housing

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin could pick a new developer for the empty Dwelling Depot home this summer season.

The lengthy-vacant assets at Interstate 35 and St. Johns Avenue has been called a good deal of names soon after it was a residence improvement store. Lots of of them, not so sort.

“You just kind of look at it and go, ‘why aren’t they undertaking one thing additional with the house?’” reported Steve Felgate, who manages ABC Offer, a roofing store throughout the street.

In 2018, a KXAN investigation highlighted the town-owned home. Voters authorized a bond in 2006 to turn it into a police substation and municipal court docket, but the undertaking fell via due to absence of funding.

The metropolis needs to convert the residence into a blended use-progress district with very affordable housing and place for recreation. 6 bids had been submitted when the RFP procedure closed last thirty day period.

A.J. Smith and Daniel Loe of Forsite Studio, an Austin-primarily based architecture organization, assumed it would be perfect for homeless housing.

“This was our possibility to place this out there and say this is what we can do,” claimed Loe.

In the very last several months, they sent their notion to council users and city homeless officials.

Less than the strategy, 400 shipping and delivery containers would provide as “microunits,” in which individuals or families could live. The containers would be positioned within the Dwelling Depot composition. Far more details on the plan can be discovered in this article.

The architects say their approach did not get traction with city leaders, and the deadline for builders to post bids has presently passed.

“Forsite did not post a proposal for thing to consider,” reported a town spokesperson. 

But it got us inquiring if the metropolis at any time thought of the house for homeless housing, one particular of Austin’s most urgent requirements.

“The former Residence Depot setting up is in extreme disrepair and is not habitable,” reported a Metropolis of Austin spokesperson. “Water, wastewater and electric power to the making have not been managed given that the setting up was acquired in 2008. The only working electrical service at this time is servicing the remaining light fixtures in the parking good deal, and no other utility products and services are offered outside the existing developing.” 

A town spokesperson also told us a mixed-use growth was the consensus soon after two several years of engagement with neighbors in the St. Johns area.

We reached out to the St. Johns Community Association. Its president, Akeem McLennon, said while there was broad support for affordable housing in the region, there were other problems.

“Neighbors have also expressed issue that working with the site for a homeless shelter would perpetuate the financial neglect that has historically occurred on this part of city,” he instructed us.

But it does not indicate there won’t be any lasting housing for homeless persons as part of a rebuild.

“I count on housing for people who are homeless to be section of what receives developed right here in collaboration with the neighborhood,” claimed Austin Town Council member Greg Casar. “But the finish reconstruction of this internet site, for the reason that of its point out of disrepair, is a lengthy process.”

Particulars of the 6 bids will not be readily available till the metropolis chooses an possibility.