The city will celebrate the completion of its mixed-income housing developments this week, nearly three years after breaking ground on the projects meant to replace some of the low-income housing destroyed by Hurricane Ike in 2008.
A ribbon cutting ceremony will be at Villas on the Strand on Thursday to mark the symbolic end of construction of the housing that replaced two public housing projects torn down in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike.
“It’s about to be over,” Galveston Housing Authority Executive Director Mona Purgason said last week. She said contractors were working to complete punch list items ahead of Thursday’s ceremony but that most of the construction was substantially done.
“We’re thrilled that the developments are finally complete,” she said.
Construction of Villas on the Strand, in the 1500 block of Strand Street, and its sister property, The Cedars at Carver Park, in the 2900 block of Ball Street, began in September 2014 following years of political unrest over the return of public housing to the city.
The two projects, which contain townhouses and apartments, are known as mixed-income housing projects, meaning they contain both subsidized public housing and market-rate units.
Such developments are seen by some as superior to economically segregated public housing, like the kind that once occupied the sites, because they break up pockets of poverty.
The two developments include 145 units of public or subsidized housing, about a quarter of the 569 public housing units lost in Hurricane Ike.
The Galveston Housing Authority and the Texas General Land Office are bound by a legal agreement with federal authorities to replace all the housing that was torn down.
On Friday, a land office spokeswoman said the agency had signed three contracts for a total of $23 million for the construction of the first 83 units of “scattered site” housing to be built in Galveston.
“We were waiting on final approvals from (the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development), which started coming in this week, which allows us to issue notices to proceed on the first 54 units,” said Brittany Eck, the land office spokeswoman. “The remaining units are in the process of receiving final approvals.”
Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush is expected to be at Thursday’s ceremony.
Though construction has taken three years, people have been living at The Cedars and Villas on the Strand for more than two years.
According to information provided by the Galveston Housing Authority, every one of the 120 units of subsidized housing completed at the two sites has been claimed and is occupied. The data reflects construction and rental information through June 4.
Of the market rate units, 103 of the 122 units at The Cedars at Carver Park are occupied. At Villas, 18 of 37 completed market rate units were occupied, with another 41 market rate units still to be completed.
The housing authority’s data also shows that dozens of people have filed applications to property manager McCormack Baron Salazar for the unoccupied spaces.