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City, home developer partner to decrease vacant lots

8 new infill homes coming to east side's 'promise zone'

SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio city leaders said a new agreement with New Leaf Homes will turn vacant lots into productive properties.

City Council voted Thursday to provide the home developer with $300,000 in certificates of obligation for sidewalks at a new subdivision off FM 1346 and Foster Road. In return, New Leaf homes will fill eight currently vacant lots in the city's east side "promise zone" with new homes.

"I wouldn't consider it the best neighborhood but the majority of the time, it's quiet," Pete Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez and his family live on the 100 block of Gabriel Street. Two vacant San Antonio Affordable Housing Inc. lots right next door will soon be financed and built by New Leaf Homes. The developer will then market the homes for $120,000 or less.

If New Leaf Homes can't sell the homes within a year of being built, the developer will donate them to SAAH. However, one donated home counts as two infill homes towards the developer's commitment of eight infill homes.

"We are thrilled to be a part of this initiative in order to give back to our city and provide quality housing stock to the inner-city to build a better community," Fred Ghavidel, president of New Leaf homes, said to City Council.

The area's councilman, Alan Warrick, calls the agreement a win-win.

"I think it's a great opportunity for our mixed-income community and I think these great homes will be a new product for the downtown core and I think they're going to sell like hot cakes," Warrick said.

Vacant lots aren't just an eyesore. They cost the city money to maintain and likely affect neighboring property values.

The two homes surrounding the lots where the first infill homes will be built were valued in 2015 by the Bexar County Appraisal District at $24,410 and $48,230. Warrick said appraised value doesn't mean that's necessarily what the homes would sell for.

Rodriguez does still expect to be in the area by the time the new homes are built. He only cares about who may be his new neighbors.