North of Broadway neighborhood

New homes in the 3400 block of Winnie in Galveston are nearly ready to go up for sale.

GALVESTON

The city’s housing finance corporation soon will list for sale five houses along Winnie Street and start developing other houses on the island meant to be affordable.

The Galveston Housing Finance Corp. met this week to determine its costs and consider sale prices for the houses in the 3400 block of Winnie and to discuss whether to purchase three more lots in the neighborhood, board President Patricia Bolton-Legg said.

The houses are the latest developments in a broader plan to address Galveston’s affordable housing shortage, she said. The houses haven’t been priced yet because the corporation is still finalizing the last of its expenses and waiting for the power company to install underground electrical work, she said.

“They look really nice and complete the block,” Bolton-Legg said. “We’re trying to create a more neighborhood feel instead of a lot of empty blocks being around the city.”

The Winnie project started in February and the corporation plans to list the properties within the month, she said. Once the houses sell, the corporation would begin building four new properties on lots it owns around Galveston, Bolton-Legg said.

The housing corporation in 2014 purchased the land, which had been the site of a nightclub before Hurricane Ike in 2008, Bolton-Legg said. Construction began late last year.

The surrounding neighborhood has historically been more industrial with its proximity to Harborside Drive and has empty lots scattered throughout, she said.

The projects had been slated for completion by April, but construction was delayed in part because of issues connecting the electricity, she said. The corporation needed two electrical poles installed on the properties and had to seek easements and other permits for the work, she said.

“The houses are pretty much complete, we just need to get the electricity,” she said.

The homes will be eligible for sale to families with a household income between $31,746 and $57,200 annually, according to the corporation.

Homeowners will need to provide their own financing, but can qualify for different programs offering down payment and closing cost assistance, she said.

Affordable housing is an acute issue in Galveston where thousands of people in the local workforce live off the island, at least in part attributed to the shortage of housing priced less than $200,000. Some elected leaders of late have been discussing how to address those needs, including building a housing subdivision near the airport and reducing flood insurance rates.

Now, the corporation could look to buy more land near 41st Street and Winnie to develop houses. The landowner had approached the corporation and Bolton-Legg encouraged board members this week to drive by the properties before making a decision, she said. The corporation owns land purchased from tax foreclosures around the island, she said.

The corporation’s board of directors first discussed the possible land buy Tuesday, Bolton-Legg said.

Similar houses — built to sell below-market value to eligible homeowners — exist around the island, Bolton-Legg said. The city-sponsored Galveston Housing Finance Corp. has worked on similar projects, including at Barton Square, where the corporation built more than 40 homes in the early 2000s, she said.

The housing corporation was created by the city council, but gets its funding from federal sources, not city taxes, according to the corporation. It’s not considered a city board, but the city council appoints members to the housing corporation board.

The corporation sells properties close to at-cost, but does use a small profit on the sales to buy other foreclosed properties or land, she said.

Once the five houses on Winnie are sold, the corporation would begin work to build four houses on four empty lots it owns around Galveston, Bolton-Legg said.

“We do a project, complete it and move on to another project,” Bolton-Legg said.

Marissa Barnett: 409-683-5257; marissa.barnett@galvnews.com

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(15) comments

Rusty Schroeder

I will be anxious to see the asking price for these houses, I know how much it would costs to build one with 1st class fixtures, appliances, and flooring. They do look nice, can't see the yard size or if it is fenced. Would also like to see the quality of the interior, like I said, eagerly awaiting pricing. How will the buyers be picked? Will it be a bidding war? What is to keep a shell game from happening ? Buying and reselling or renting at a marked premium, all serious questions.

Susan Fennewald

There's an error -
I'm on the board of the Galveston Housing Finance Corp. After a previous article on our project we rechecked our figures:

The maximum income for prospective home buyers is $100,521.

It's true that we haven't fixed a final price due to additional costs late in the project- but it will probably be in the $160-180K range - which is what it costs to build a basic house here in Galveston - without the cost of the lot. (GHFC contributed the lot for free,)

Rusty Schroeder

What is the difference between building a basic house on the island to building that exact same house on the mainland? What is the sq. footage of these houses? I am curious because I have property in Santa Fe that I am considering building the same type of house, with piers as well. We also have a shortage of decent rental housing as well, and I know I can beat that costs by half with the exact same features or better. Land is not an object in my calculation as well, so where is the difference? Materials are the same, labor is the same, only thing I can see different is government intervention. My guess are those houses are around 1200-1400 sg. ft.

Susan Fennewald

The houses are about 1000 sq ft. There are floodplain requirements that determine the elevation level, and there are windstorm requirements that determine some building practices and hurricane-proof windows. Other than that, I'm not sure of any expensive local building requirements (but I could be wrong - I wasn't involved in all details of the project). If you can build for half that price - we'll hire you next time.

Rusty Schroeder

Susan the requirements are the same as on the mainland, hurricane proof windows are a standard and windstorm requirements are the same. I am not a builder, but I have built buildings as well as elevated structures. Somewhere there is something I am not seeing, 1000 sq. ft basically elevated 5' for $180K, that's insane. There is an ad in today's paper for new brick homes in Lago Mar starting at $190K.

Susan Fennewald

The houses are elevated about 12 ft.
I'm pretty sure that the brick houses on the mainland are on a slab.
We got a couple of bids - they were both about the same, I think. That's the best we could do.

Don Schlessinger

Susan, how will all this affect local property owners with regard to property taxes?

Susan Fennewald

It should have little to no effect on local property taxes.

Rusty Schroeder

I see the elevation now, still high for that quality house. Definitely cement slabs on the mainland Lago Mar houses, but is pretty close to the same when considering water and plumbing ease on a piling type house. I am eager to see the floorplan and how much they sell for, especially the interior furnishings. Too many hands in the jar is probably the cost difference, being that the land was free.

Susan Fennewald

I believe that the elevation is BFE basic flood elevation plus 1 ft (plus or minus one ft). GHFC took no money out of the jar. That's how much it cost us to build these houses.

We're eager to see how much they sell for also. If we can recoup our costs - we can build more. If we lose money- we'll have to consider where things stand. We don't need to make money - we're not a business - but we can't do many more if we can't break even.

Rusty Schroeder

I understand, I do think they will sell high. But I think it will be to people that want to be close to the Med Center (UTMB), primarily not families. I can see these being snatched up by students or interns then rented out down the line to the same. I wish you success, the additions do make the neighborhood look nicer and more livable than before.

Randy Chapman

Rusty, most likely the cost is because of the City being in bed with the builders that showed up after Ike to "save" us.

Randy Chapman

Who was the builder? One of the builders that showed up after Ike?

Rusty Schroeder

Probably the same ones that rebuilt the FEMA handout houses. That is what they look like.

George Croix

Whenever I see the word 'affordable' tacked onto anything involving the government, I immediately think of pants on fire......

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