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AUSTIN-The Metropolis apartment complex, perhaps Austin’s funkiest multifamily housing development, has a new owner that plans to increase its involvement in community endeavors. American Village Communities Inc., a nonprofit organization, bought the 308-unit complex from Austin Plantation Oaks Ltd., an entity owned by Justin Robert Hilton, for about $16 million.

The Metropolis, situated in the southeast submarket, was planned to attract a diverse mix of tenants to affordable apartments in an urban-style design. The 12 buildings are illustrated with full-sized, color murals on the stucco and brick walls. Built according to Austin’s “green builder” guidelines, construction used recycled materials, energy- and water-saving fixtures and xeriscape, a method of landscaping with drought-resistant native plants to conserve water.

American Village financed the purchase with $19.1 million in bonds obtained through the Travis County Housing Finance Corp. Allstate Insurance Corp. holds the bonds and is liable if American Village defaults, according to Harvey Davis, manager of the finance corporation.

Hilton developed the apartments after buying an apartment complex on the site that had been boarded up for seven years. Myan Management Group LLC, based in Southlake, TX, is managing the property. Brent Baber, president of Fairfax, VA-based American Village, was unavailable to talk about the Metropolis purchase.

Donna Lipman, Austin Plantation Oaks CEO, tells GlobeSt.com that American Village plans to create greater participation with Austin service groups. She says American Village is forming alliances and partnership with groups such as Austin SafePlace, which provides services for women who are victims of domestic and sexual violence. Services provided by the apartment complex could be “interim housing, a facility for events (in the clubhouse) and computer training,” Lipman says. “They’re looking to create that kind of community involvement.”

That approach has been part of the Metropolis since it opened in 1998, she said. Hilton wanted it to be “community-minded, service-minded and have the residents participate in that.” Events included Challenge Day, a daylong session to counsel teenagers, and a battle-of-the-bands fund-raiser for AIDS Services of Austin. “We’ve done some things here along the way,” she says, “but I think Mr. Baber’s vision is to take that a little further and involve the residents even more in community service.

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