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SAN ANTONIO-Former US Housing and Urban Development Secretary Henry Cisneros, now chairman of American CityVista, and Kaufman & Broad Home Corp. envision 125 acres in San Antonio as the gateway for bridging the Digital Divide in Texas while history-making negotiations are under way for other high-tech projects in Denver, Las Vegas, Houston and Los Angeles.

“If we can breach the Digital Divide in homes that are affordable that will be a key factor” in narrowing the gap between America’s have-nots and haves, Cisneros tells GlobeSt.com. Only the 600-home development in south San Antonio has been sealed. Talks have begun for a high-tech development of up to 12,000 smart dwellings–single-family and multifamily–at the former Stapleton Airport, which is a go for an American CityVista mid-market housing project but not necessarily smart-home savvy units. “It’s too early to tell if it’s going to be the same in Colorado,” says Cisneros. America CityVista also is searching for land and partnerships to bring identical developments to economically challenged sections of the other three markets, Cisneros has disclosed. “The plan certainly is to build more areas than San Antonio,” says Cisneros.

At the heart of the innovative Lago Vista undertaking are key partnerships with Gateway Computers, Southwestern Bell Communications, Time Warner Inc. and Univision. SBC will lay high-quality voice and data lines offering high-speed DSL and traditional phone service. Through the other partnerships, Time Warner will provide cable hookups; Univision will deliver Internet Service; and Gateway will round out the project with PC packages valued at $1,000 each. Cisneros says the deal will only add $25 per month to mortgages for Lago Vista homebuyers, who must make a three-year commitment for the high-tech service.

“It’s not just the Internet, the computer,” stresses Cisneros. “The real vibrant factor is the role of the school.” Fiber-optic lines must crisscross other economically challenged neighborhoods to reach Lago Vista, which is being constructed in one of the nation’s poorest school districts. Cisneros tells GlobeSt.com that it’s difficult to tell just how many existing homes will fall into the DSL service area to make other homeowners eligible for the specially priced connection. The lines definitely will connect to a vacant parcel abutting Lago Vista that is available for more housing in the mid-$70,000 to mid-$120,000 range, a market that is rapidly becoming extinct in San Antonio and the target cities. Lago Vista’s first models will be unveiled Jan. 20, 2001, with the target date serving as the first day for sales.

The project is being financed with a $30-million pool made possible by Fannie Mae and the joint venture of Kaufman & Broad and American CityVista, a partnership launched just 12 weeks ago. The Austin division of Kaufman & Broad is this year’s most active developer in Central Texas, undertaking more than six single-family residential communities in the mid-market range and under that are separate from its American CityVista partnership.

Lago Vista is the first IT inroad into San Antonio’s lower-income market and the first major new housing project in that corridor in more than 40 years. Beyond the DSL service, there are plans afoot to establish community high-tech centers, teacher training and Web site development for the South San Antonio School District. “I think the most creative part is working with schools for Web sites,” Cisneros says of the considerations being proposed by Gateway. Kaufman & Broad is seeding the school district’s technology initiatives with a $10,000 contribution.

According to recent statistics, this year’s third quarter has hit a record homebuying high, with 67.7% of Americans now homeowners, taking the nation’s total to 71.6 million. The historic high also has set all-time highs for minority homebuyer segments. In a breakdown, 48.2% of the minority population have joined the homebuying ranks, with 46.7% being Hispanic, 51.9% coming from central city corridors, 53.3% representing female heads of household, 52.2% under the nation’s median family income and 61% for married couples under 35 years old. The national median existing home price is now $141,800, a 5.5% jump from September a year ago, in what is being touted as the second consecutive year for record home sales.

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