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Many looking to rent an apartment in Houston might be having a hard time — and for those wondering why, Rent Cafe offers an answer in its end-of-the-year report on Texas' most-competitive rental markets.

In San Antonio, renters are mainly staying put, renewing their leases into 2023. According to Rent Cafe, about 56 percent of renters and apartment dwellers opted to stay where they were. That's creating a tight squeeze for would-be renters; for every available apartment, there are, on average, 12 renters vying to live there.

Rent Cafe also indicates that apartments in San Antonio fill up within 31 days and the overall apartment market finds itself at about 94 percent occupancy.

That's great news for rental property owners, even as it's likely causing stress for those looking to find new digs and aren't interested in home ownership.

Turns out, though, that San Antonio isn't actually the most competitive rental market in the state. That honor goes to El Paso, where there are 15 renters looking for every available unit. And available apartments in Sun City stay vacant for only 28 days.

In Austin, Dallas, and Fort Worth, would-be renters are also finding things difficult. In Austin, 12 prospective renters are vying for every available unit, and those units stay vacant, on average, for only a month before someone else signs a lease.

In Dallas, there are 14 renters for every available unit, and those who spy a vacant apartment better grab it fast. Rent Cafe says the units in Big D stay vacant for only about 30 days, which is also the story in neighboring Fort Worth, where 13 prospective renters compete for every available unit.

So, why can't Texans find apartments in Texas? Blame supply and demand. There are more people looking to rent than are places to rent. Even though Austin increased its share of rental units by nearly three percent this year and Houston upped its supply by two percent, it's still not enough.

"Markets in Texas continued to attract out-of-state renters looking for better job opportunities and a more affordable lifestyle," read a summary of Rent Cafe's report.

The bright side to all of this? We're not Miami. The Florida city topped Rent Cafe's list of most-competitive markets, where 32 prospective renters are competing for every available unit.

Looks like the moral of the story is, Houstonians should be prepared to sign on the dotted line once they find that spot they love.

Photo by Chandra Maharzan on Unsplash

San Antonio announces first 14 affordable housing projects of landmark $150 million initiative

Now Projected

The City of San Antonio made history in May when voters elected to approve its first full-scale affordable housing bond. It brought $150 million to the table, with five years to invest those funds, starting now. On December 16, the San Antonio City Council approved funding for a round of 14 projects, utilizing $43.9 million in bond and federal contributions to create or maintain 2,523 affordable housing units. A second round of projects is expected to be revealed in spring 2023.

“Affordable housing has been a top priority of our residents and over the past several years, the City of San Antonio has made record investments to make housing more affordable,” said city manager Erik Walsh, as quoted in a public release. “The Affordable Housing Bond is bringing new housing options online, while also preserving the availability of housing units for those who need it most.”

In total, the 14 projects include more than 2,500 units, with 2,461 rentals and 71 units for purchase. The bonds will produce more than 750 new units to rent or own, and 1,775 rental units will be rehabilitated.

Nearly a quarter of the units will be used as public or income-based housing. The remainder still focus on equity, as determined by a committee that considered factors like “deep” affordability (for renters earning less than half of the median area income, and homeowners earning less than 80 percent), universal design (for many ages and abilities), sustainability exceeding city code, and a number of measures of accessibility for residents.

Other considerations for more holistic equitable living included high-speed internet access, more diverse geographic distribution, and “meaningful, on-site resident services.” The reviews also considered what would happen to communities already in the area, and required developers working on new construction to fill out displacement assessments.

“Addressing housing affordability has been a key priority of mine, and over the past five years, it’s an issue that San Antonio residents have come together to rally behind,” said San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg. “This direct investment in affordable housing will considerably boost local housing supply, preserve our aging housing stock, protect our neighborhoods and will help ensure that everyone has a place to call home.”

The City of San Antonio, Bexar County, and the South Alamo Regional Alliance for the Homeless (SARAH) have requested proposals by January 23, 2023, for permanent supportive housing (PSH), which combines affordable housing with support services to address chronic homelessness or other barriers. Since the current 14 projects don’t use all the bond’s resources, this represents the remaining category.

A full breakdown of projects by income is available at sanantonio.gov.

Photo by SeanPavonePhoto/Getty Images

San Antonio sees nation's second biggest spike in rent prices, says new study

Housing pain

If a new study is an accurate indicator, renters in San Antonio have experienced more sticker shock in the past two decades than homeowners.

The study, published by Clever Real Estate’s Real Estate Witch website, shows the San Antonio metro area was among seven major metros where the growth in rents surpassed the growth in home values from 2000 to 2022.

Rents in the San Antonio area climbed from $383 in 2000 to $1,165 in 2022, up 204 percent, according to the study. Among the 50 largest metros, San Antonio ranked second for the steepest rent hikes, behind only Nashville (179 percent).

Meanwhile, home values in San Antonio jumped from $130,821 in 2000 to $309,475 in 2022, up 137 percent.

Even though rents soared over a 22-year span, San Antonio is one of only four major metros where the rent-to-income ratio is lower than the national median, says the study, based on federal data for the country’s 50 biggest metro areas. The ratio is 16.4 percent in San Antonio, compared with 16.5 percent nationally. In other words, rent is more affordable in San Antonio compared with the rest of the country.

According to rental platform Apartment List, San Antonio rents increased 14.5 percent from May 2021 to May 2022.

“This is the fifth straight month that the city has seen rent increases after a decline in December of last year,” Apartment List says.

Still, San Antonio’s year-over-year rent growth lags the Texas average (14.8 percent), as well as the national average (15.3 percent), according to Apartment List.

Courtesy of Hemisfair

Historic house at Hemisfair up for lease as park transformation continues

Hemisfair News

The Kusch House, an 1880s-era building that lies at the western edge of Hemisfair’s Tower Park, is now available for leasing opportunities as officials focus on the newest phase of the downtown park’s transformation.

The Hemisfair Park Area Redevelopment Corp. (HPARC) announced on April 25 a Request for Interest process, seeking proposals from local businesses and entrepreneurs who want to expand or launch their concept in central San Antonio.

HPARC has been working to reimagine the original Hemisfair Park, which was first built to accommodate the 1968 World’s Fair. Much of the civic space between the central business district and Southtown stood underutilized for years, but private and public initiatives have been part of efforts to remake Hemisfair into a destination with family-friendly parks, green and event spaces, new apartments, and retail and dining ventures.

Interested parties may submit proposals for the Kusch House at hemisfair.org/rfi.

“With the momentum building following Civic Park’s groundbreaking, Kusch House offers an exceptional view of it all,” Hemisfair CEO Andres Andujar said. “We want to hear the small business community’s big ideas for breathing new life into this historic building and showcasing what San Antonio has to offer for all who visit, play and live at Hemisfair.”

HPARC said the exterior of the Kusch House, including windows, doors and roofing, has been stabilized and updated due in part to private donations, including a grant from the Bank of America Charitable Foundation. Other grant funds will be use to support the build-out of the structure once a small business tenant is selected.

The 1,100-square-foot structure includes an additional 385 square feet of front and rear porch space and 550 square feet of basement area. The property also features an outdoor space for additional seating with views of the Tower of the Americas. HPARC said the areas surrounding the property contribute to one of the most active pedestrian gateways in downtown, with proximity to multiple adjacent retail spaces, parking facilities, residences as well as the River Walk and Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center.

Hemisfair provides a flexible lease structure with tenants renting the historic homes they occupy based on a percentage of sales. Hemisfair typically draws more than 600,000 visitors annually, though the lease structure is forgiving in times of low attendance or economic uncertainty, according to HPARC. Hemisfair officials also said revenue generated by leasing such structures contributes to Hemisfair’s overall financial sustainability and helps it become an active, urban park for residents and visitors.

Where the Kusch House is concerned, HPARC hopes to see proposals from ventures focused on food and beverages, retail or health and wellness. Hemisfair follows a public procurement process for new onsite business opportunities, usually with a three-to-12-month timeline from selection to opening, pending design and construction needs.

RFI responses are due by 5:59 pm on June 10, 2022. Tours of the space are available by appointment for interested parties, and a pre-submittal conference and open house will take place at 3:30 pm on May 17.

Along with the new tenant of Kusch House, HPARC is eager to expand the portfolio of Hemisfair tenants, which currently includes Box Street Social, CommonWealth Coffeehouse and Bakery, Dough Pizzeria Napoletana, EnergyX Fitness, Lick Honest Ice Creams, Magik Theatre, Paletería San Antonio and Re:Rooted 210 Urban Winery. Bombay Bicycle Club, Künstler Tap & Brat-Haus, and Jerk Shack are among the eateries scheduled to open at Hemisfair this year or next.

In January 2022, Hemisfair also broke ground on Civic Park, an 18-month construction project meant to produce more than five acres of new public park space, including natural rock formations and water sources designed to tell the story of the region’s geologic development. Civic Park Phase I is scheduled to open by fall 2023.

Photo courtesy of Abodo

San Antonio drives home major one-year spike in apartment rents

Cost-of-living concerns

If you’re feeling financially squeezed as a renter in San Antonio, maybe you can take comfort in the fact that you’re not the only one who’s not at home with rent costs spiking.

According to new data from rental platform Zumper, the average rent for one-bedroom apartment in the Alamo City climbed 11.3 percent from February 2021 to February 2022, winding up at $1,080.

“Rent’s rapid rise is largely tied to the home sales market. As home prices rise, they price out renters who would otherwise buy,” Zumper says. “And because the home sales market has gotten so hypercompetitive, many frustrated renters in the market for a home have simply given up because the process is so exhausting and demoralizing.”

As a result, the home sales market is keeping some tenants in the rental market longer than they’d like to be, leading to higher rents overall, according to Zumper.

Among the 100 cities included in Zumper’s latest rental index, Miami experienced the steepest year-over-year rise in the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment: 34.4 percent.

In Texas, Austin recorded the highest increase in the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment (30.3 percent) from February 2021 to February 2022, Zumper says. This February, the average rent there was $1,550.

Plano, near Dallas-Fort Worth, witnessed the biggest one-year jump in the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment. From February 2021 to February 2022, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment there rose 17.1 percent to $1,440. Irving ranked second in DFW, with a 16.7 percent year-over-year spike in the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment. Irving’s average rent stood at $1,330.

Dallas landed at No. 3 in the region, with a 13.4 percent jump in the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment from February 2021 to February 2022. The average rent in Dallas was $1,440, according to Zumper.

In Fort Worth, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment climbed 9 percent to $1,210, while it increased 8.4 percent in Arlington to $1,030.

In Houston, the increase was 9.9 percent, ending up at $1,220.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

San Antonio suburb among the richest places in Texas for 2023, plus more top stories

Hot Headlines

Editor’s note: It’s that time again — time to check in with our top stories. Here are five articles that captured our collective attention over the past seven days.

1. San Antonio suburb cashes in among the richest places in Texas for 2023. Alamo Heights has been renamed the third richest place in Texas for 2023 in a recent study.

2. San Antonio home sales slowed in December 2022, report finds. San Antonio sold 36,477 homes all year, a 10 percent decrease from 2021.

3. Here are the top 5 things to do in San Antonio this weekend. Nina Simone, Pink Floyd, the Beatles and more music-centered events made our roundup of the best things to do in Alamo City this weekend.

4. San Antonio Home & Garden Show returns with HGTV star. Ati Williams will headline the San Antonio Spring Home & Garden Show, which takes place February 24-26.

5. H-E-B opens first location in growing San Antonio suburb. The state-of-the-art facility offers 110,000 square feet of floor space, providing everything from cat food to charcuterie.


Popular Pearl brunch spot remixes with new weekend DJ nights

OONCE OONCE OONCE

Though Full Goods Diner has barely been open for half a year, it has already become a San Antonio staple for working weekday lunches and lingering Sunday Fundays. Now the Pearl eatery is looking to be a hot spot after dark.

Via release, the popular local haunt just announced a new limited-time music series, Full Goods at Night. Starting on February 2, Full Goods Diner will open select evenings throughout the month.

The Full Goods at Night series will feature popular local San Antonio DJs, including El West Side Sound, Hector Gallego, DJ Plata, Steven Lee Moya, and Cami Gee. Guests can enjoy live sets while indulging in a specially curated food and drink offerings.

The menu will include some of Full Goods Diner's best—selling items, such as French toast sticks, barbacoa waffle fries, and jumbo cheesy tots. Libations like the Attaboy Negroni, Royal Bermuda Daiquiri, Pink G&T, and more will fuel the festivities.

In addition to enjoying moonlight brunch, guests can relish some prime people-watching. And, of course, the restaurant is just a hop from other nightlife destinations like Pink Hill, 3 Star Bar, and Summer Camp Bar, making it the perfect party starter.

The series runs every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from February 2-25, 6-10 pm. The complete DJ schedule is listed below.

February 2 — El West Side Sound·
February 3 — Hector Gallego
February 4— DJ Plata
February 9 — El West Side Sound
February 10 — Steven Lee Moya
February 11 — Cami Gee
February 16 — El West Side Sound
February 17 — Steven Lee Moya
February 18 — Hector Gallego
February 23 — El West Side Sound
February 24— Steven Lee Moya
February 25 — DJ Plata

4 San Antonio culinary pioneers win $21K from the Texas Food & Wine Alliance

CULINARY INNOVATION

Texas’ skyrocketing culinary scene is about to get a huge boost. The Texas Food & Wine Alliance’s grant program has awarded $107,500 to 19 culinary innovators around the state. This marks the Alliance’s 11th year providing funding to support culinary projects contributing to local communities.

The award winners were announced in a ceremony at Austin's Holdsworth Center on January 21. A private panel of distinguished culinary experts chose the winners out of 40 grant applications this year. Nine winners hail from Austin, three from Dallas-Fort Worth, three from Houston, and four from San Antonio. The awards range from $1,500 to $10,000, with a special $25,000 grant investment from Austin favorite Tito’s Handmade Vodka in honor of the company’s 25th anniversary. Grant funding will support chefs, farms, and culinary education groups, among others.

Out of the four San Antonio area winners, Talking Tree Farm received the most from the grant program, $6,250 to purchase shipping containers for storage and to buy a solar-powered cold room for their harvests. John Marshall High School’s culinary arts program will use their $5,000 grant to establish a morning café. Agricultural project Habitable Spaces and pasture-raised chicken farm Cielito Lindo Farm also won $5,000 each to purchase equipment or build infrastructure to further their endeavors in the culinary space.

Austin-area winners received the most funding from the grant program, totalling $53,750, while San Antonio winners received $21,250 in total. Dallas/Fort Worth winners were awarded $19,750, and the three Houston recipients won $12,750. All of the 2022 winners reflect just how diverse the state's trailblazing culinary scene continues to expand.

“All of this year’s funded projects will further enrich the state through innovation and giveback,” said Erika White, executive director of the Alliance. “We’re extremely grateful to each of the Texas communities, our sponsors and their support in allowing us to reward these mold-breaking projects.”

In Austin, organic farm Trosi Farms was awarded the most funding ($10,000), which will help construct a germination shed for more stable plant start production. Locavore pioneer Boggy Creek Farm won $7,500 in grants to provide ADA-compliant accessibility to their new climate-controlled Tomato House, while Texas’ first organic feed mill, Coyote Creek Organic Feed Mill & Farm, received $6,250 to help purchase a building to be used as a store for the local community.

The six other Austin area grant recipients, each winning $5,000, include Vista Farms at Vista Brewing, Jamaican family business Tierra Todun ATX, coffee roasters Rising Tide Roast Collaborative, culinary educator Chef Pascal Simon from Bake Austin, East Austin food truck Community Vegan, and Latinx pastry project Comadre Panaderia (who also just earned a James Beard nomination). All winners will be able to use their grants to improve efficiency and expand their businesses, or in Chef Pascal's case, further research and development for her upcoming cookbook for Gen-Z young adults.

After starting the program in Austin, grant co-chair and TFWA past president Cathy Cochran-Lewis says it was the Alliance’s dream to expand the grant statewide.

“We’re so humbled and thrilled to now not only support worthwhile projects across Texas but also to give more than a half million dollars in funding over the last decade to help dreams come true,” she says. “This is a tribute to the culinary talent and the community mindset we are lucky to have in our state.”

The winners in the Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston areas include:

For this year's Honorable Mention, the Alliance chose San Antonio eatery Tacos Cucuy, who will soon open a brick-and-mortar space with an expanded menu. Tacos Cucuy are currently looking for support to develop a Tex-Mex charcuterie program called La Cura Carnes Especiales.

More information about the 2022 grants and its recipients can be found on texasfoodandwinealliance.org.