Oct 5, 2021
City leaders broke ground Tuesday on a massive $112 million project to construct
the Oleanders at Broadway, the last large-scale public-housing development needed
to replace almost 600 units lost to Hurricane Ike in 2008.
The launch of construction of the development, 5200 Broadway, was noteworthy for
the lack of interest it drew, compared to the heated opposition to mixed-income
developments built years before.
Mayor Craig Brown praised the mixed-income complex, noting how it brings
together market-rate and public-housing units in one 348-unit development.
“It also brings into play for the first time workforce housing,” Brown said.
In addition to 174 public-housing units, the 11.5-acre project will include 87 low-income
housing tax-credit units.
The public-housing units are available only to people who make very low incomes.
The tax-credit units allow people making a slightly higher income to qualify.
It’s been a long road to get to the final major mixed- income development, said
Betty Massey, vice chairwoman of the Galveston Housing Authority.
“Twelve years ago, this housing authority and this community made a promise,”
Massey said. “It was a legal promise, and it was a moral promise to replace 569 units
of public housing. We’re coming to the end of that promise.”
The housing at the Oleander development, along with 26 scattered-site homes, will
be the last of 569 units Galveston had to replace following damage by Hurricane Ike.
Multiple speakers noted how the project will bring more residents back to Galveston
and provide important affordable and public housing.
Once people are given a nice, quality place to stay, they’re more likely to remain on
the island, said Richard Baron, chairman of McCormack Baron Salazar. The
company is developing and will own the Oleanders project.
“The hope is families will feel it’s a good place to raise their kids,” Baron said.
When Galveston started the process 10 years ago to replace public housing, the
efforts were met with significant opposition from some in the community.
McCormack Baron also developed and runs the two other mixed-income properties
in Galveston: Villas on The Strand, 1524 Strand St., and Cedars at Carver Park, 2915
Ball St. The two developments have widely been considered a success.
“Once people saw the Cedars and the Villas, it changed their thinking,” Baron said.
Mary Patrick, president of the local chapter of the NAACP, called the construction a
triumph after years of opposition.
“We have been allowed to walk this long and wonderful journey and at last, at last,
we’re here,” Patrick said.
The community initially had much pushback to rebuilding public housing, said
Patricia Toliver, second vice president of the NAACP local chapter.
But mixed-income developments are good for children who will live in the complex,
“They don’t see poverty every day,” Toliver said. “They see people getting up, going
to work. They say, ‘That’s what I want to be.’”
The project is expected to last about two years.
Keri Heath: 409-683-5241; firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @HeathKeri.