Alamo Colleges, developer selling struggling student housing in Tobin Hill


The Alamo Colleges District partnered with a private developer in 2012 to build Tobin Lofts at San Antonio College, making it the first of the largest community college systems in Texas to offer student accommodation.

District officials and NRP Group leaders saw the 225-unit complex along North Main Avenue as a potential draw for students looking for a shorter commute and a closer connection to campus.

“If I come home every day from my campus, take public transport, change three times, come home to an unpleasant family environment, I’ll be motivated not to go,” said the late Dan. Markson, senior vice president of development at NRP, said in 2014. “Is it motivating to live in the coolest loft in town for $ 500 or $ 600 a month, with a nightlife all around you with students from all the colleges in town? “

Apartments were also a potential source of income, with the NRP estimating in 2012 that the complex would earn the college system around $ 3.8 million over 12 years.

But Tobin Lofts “on the whole didn’t make any money,” in part because of the issues made worse by the coronavirus pandemic, according to a spokesperson for Alamo Colleges.

The fast-growing Tobin Hill complex is now on the verge of being sold – and reconfigured into mixed-income housing.

As part of the public-private partnership with the NRP, Alamo Colleges sold the land to a public facilities company it had created. The company established Tobin Lofts LLC, which leases the land to the company.

NRP secured financing for most of the $ 30 million complex. Alamo Colleges paid for a $ 15 million parking garage from an endowment they planned to rebuild, in part through parking fees.

But the apartments have not been profitable, which the district spokesperson attributed to “a combination of lack of demand from SAC students and COVID.”

Documents prepared for college board and public institution board meetings last month noted that the pandemic “has exacerbated occupancy issues in student housing as currently configured.”

As the pandemic unfolded and students battled the ensuing economic fallout, many initially took a semester off or postponed paying tuition fees.

The NRP told Alamo Colleges that “cash flow shortages … are no longer lasting,” according to the agenda documents.

The developer suggested selling the complex to a buyer he identified, who would convert it into mixed-income housing, instead of returning it to his lender. The apartments are not in foreclosure; two possible options are to sell it or return it to the lender, the district spokesperson said.

The residential portion of Tobin Lofts, which also includes commercial space on the ground floor, is 71 percent pre-let for the next semester. Rents range from $ 579 for a bed in a four-bedroom unit to $ 1,215 for a 756-square-foot one-bedroom apartment, according to a resort website.

Alamo Colleges declined to disclose the buyer’s name or sale price until closing, citing a confidentiality agreement. The resort’s debt will be repaid, but NRP is not expected to profit from the sale, the spokesperson said. The developer funded the operating deficits, they added.

The district public equipment company will continue to own the land after the sale, and its participation provides the new owner with full exemption from property tax under state law.

In exchange, half of the apartments will be reserved for tenants earning up to 80% of the region’s median income, or $ 41,550 for one person and $ 47,450 for a couple, according to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. . The other half will likely be leased at market rates.

The buyer has signed a purchase contract and will upgrade the complex and “reconfigure the building into more conventional apartments,” according to meeting documents. The councils approved the plans last month.

The district will retain ownership of the parking lot and is negotiating a parking easement with the buyer for part of the garage, the spokesperson said.

The NRP declined to comment, instead referring a reporter to the public facilities company.

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