BC council addresses new housing concerns
The first order of business at the Bridge City council meeting Tuesday night was the issuance of two proclamations by Mayor Kirk Roccaforte. The first was to proclaim April as “Sexual Awareness Month” in Bridge City. The second stated that the week of April 22-28 would be designated as “Crime Victims Week.” Cindy Fertitta received the proclamations and gave a presentation about recognizing potential problems with children possibly being victims and how to properly deal with the children and any problems that may be discovered.
There was a standing room only group of citizens that were in attendance to discuss and question the proposed Acadian Village project. Tom Neyhart of Endgame Development, LLC, was at the workshop to try to explain the project and answer questions and concerns about the project.
There is a great deal of opposition to the project from citizens that are concerned that the housing complex will not be beneficial to the community. There is concern that the project will be federally funded and will deteriorate in the manner of some of the current HUD and Section 8 projects in the area.
Neyhart explained that the project will receive tax credits to offset construction costs and as an incentive to build the project. He explained that the project is not a HUD or Section 8 project. Prospective residents will be subjected to criminal background investigation, credit checks, background checks for drug use and conviction. No one convicted of a felony will be eligible to rent an apartment in the complex.
“We are going to check the backgrounds on all of our applicants. We do not want anyone in the complex that will not be a good citizen for Bridge City. We do not want anyone in our complex who does not pay their bills,” Neyhart said. “All of the residents will have to pay all of their rent. No one will get any federal rent subsidy or any kind; they have to bear all of their expenses.”
He explained that he wants to build a quality project. There will be granite counter tops as opposed to laminate counter tops. Each of the apartments will have a full range of appliances in the kitchens, plus a washer and dryer. There will be six different floor plans, 14 one bedroom, 38 two bedroom, and 28 three bedroom apartments. In addition there will be 16 handicap units. The size of the apartments will be between 800 and 1,300 square feet.
Questions were raised about why the apartments were being built in Bridge City. Neyhart answered that there is a need for apartment housing in Bridge City based on the market studies he conducted. The cost of the project will be in the range of $7,500,000. Rents are set at a minimum income level and rents are based below market value of comparable apartment housing in the area. The rates are set to a minimum income to $11,074 to a maximum income of $37,260. Rents in the income levels will range from $323 for a one bedroom, one bath apartment to $897 for three bedroom, three bath apartments.
Other concerns voiced were about the drainage situation on Charles Street. Neyhart stated that he has a civil engineer that is looking into the current drainage and looking at what will have to be done to install the drainage system. One challenge will be to build at current federal floodplain elevation requirements and not flood out current properties on Charles Street.
Mayor Roccaforte and several councilmen made statements in favor of the project and the positive effect it will have on the community.
“We are always happy when a business wants to locate in our city. It will bring in new residents; it will add tax dollars to our city. It may bring back some of the citizens we lost to Ike,” Roccaforte said. “Some of the problems you are afraid may come in with new apartments are not caused by the apartments, they are caused by the 50 and 60 year old houses around the apartments. It is not that the apartments are bad, there has just been deterioration all around them as a result of the passage of time and original people moving out and a different class of people moving in.”