AUSTIN-Riverside Meadows is not only Austin’s newest affordable apartment complex, it’s also an example of how fast the city’s development process can work under the right circumstances.

The 240-unit complex has opened at the intersection of east Riverside and Montopolis drives in Austin’s southeast submarket. It is aimed at residents whose income is 60% or below of the Austin area’s median income, which is $42,650 for a family of four.

The project’s developer, Realtex Development Corp., worked under the city’s SMART housing program to speed through the entire process in less than 120 days. It took just 29 days for the city to act on the subdivision, site plan and building permits, which usually takes 90 days. “It was monumental,” Rick Deyoe, the president of Realtex, says of the effort.

Deyoe tells that the project was financed with $11.7 million in tax-exempt bonds, taxable bonds and 4% tax credits. “Because the bonds expire within 120 days of when they’re issued, we were on a short time fuse,” he says.

Starting with the mayor’s office, Realtex met with the city departments and neighborhood groups concerned with the development, Deyoe says. “We told them it would take a concerted effort from all departments and that we would do our part,” he says.

By building through SMART housing, the project was put on a fast track. Under the program, the builder meets several requirements such as building in desired parts of town and using green-building methods. “We were able to have the city hand walk it through the different permitting channels,” Deyoe says.

Deyoe says this could be a model for future projects, but they might not come together so quickly. “I don’t know that it could happen as fast as we made it happen,” he says. “But certainly there is expedited processing if you use the city’s SMART housing program. I would say it could happen again.”

The project delivers one-, two- and three-bedroom units with rents ranging from $502 to $690 per month. It has a business center with high-speed Internet access and a meeting room.

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