AUSTIN-An expedited approval process will get dirt moving on an affordable multifamily housing project in Southeast Austin in January 2002. Residents could be moving into the Riverside Meadows Apartments, a 240-unit complex at East Riverside and Montopolis drives, by September 2002.

The final piece fell into place last week when the Austin Housing Finance Corp. closed the sale of $11.7 million in bonds to finance the project. The Private Activity Volume Cap and Taxable Revenue bonds provide interim construction and permanent financing. They are repayable only from rents generated by the apartment complex.

Riverside Meadows zipped through the city of Austin’s building permit process in 29 days because it was certified as a SMART Housing project. The project’s developer Austin-based Realtex Development Corp. worked with city departments to move the permits quickly. In doing so, the project closed by the deadline set by the State Bond Allocation.

The city’s SMART Housing project encourages building in designated areas such as Southeast Austin. SMART is an acronym for Safe, Mixed-Income, Accessible, Reasonably-Priced, Transit-Oriented.

“Our SMART Housing policy is making it easier for developers to assist the city with creating reasonably priced housing for Austin residents,” said Paul Hilgers, the city’s community development officer.

The project is reserved for residents with incomes at or below 60% of the median family income, which comes out to $38,000 for a family of four. Rents for the one-, two- and three-bedroom units will range from $502 to $690 per month. The complex will offer amenities such as a business center with high-speed Internet access and meeting room for educational seminars for residents and neighborhood gatherings.

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