Austin throws $2.6 million more into project converting hotel into housing for the homeless
More money is being poured into a former North Austin hotel that will be converted into housing for elderly people who are exiting homelessness.
The Austin City Council on Thursday authorized an additional $2.6 million for continued renovations to the Pecan Gardens project, raising the total contract to $6.5 million. The contract was also extended through March 2024 to finish out the renovations.
Pecan Gardens will provide permanent supportive housing for people who are elderly or disabled and have a history of chronic homelessness.
But opening Pecan Gardens has not been easy. The project has had a slew setbacks since the city bought the building in 2021.
The property was vandalized in May 2022, which meant more time and money for repairs. The project was also challenged in court by Williamson County, but the case was dismissed earlier this year.
City staff said the money approved Thursday will cover new issues including mold, drainage and fireproofing problems.
Council Member Mackenzie Kelly, who represents the area, said the process has been disappointing, but she's hopeful this will get the project to the end.
“We told the community we would be able to provide housing for individuals experiencing homelessness, and I want to ensure that we reach that goal,” she said. “It’s just frustrating that it’s taking so long.”
Austin hired local nonprofit Family Eldercare in 2022 to renovate the building and operate it once it's finished. The plan is to convert the hotel into 78 apartments and provide support services like case management, living skills training and community-building activities.
According to city documents, the renovation budget includes converting hotel rooms into office space, redesigning the lobby to improve security and create a community gathering space, and revitalizing the outdoor space.
The project is scheduled to be completed and open by the spring.