HOPE VI MIRASOL AND THE WESTSIDE REINVESTMENT INITIATIVE
In May 2011, the SAHA Board of Commissioners accepted a $20 million settlement in the lawsuit against the contractor and subcontractors, signifying the end of litigation between the parties. SAHA had been joined in the lawsuit by 66 Mirasol homeowners, in a combined effort to recover damages and to receive funds to rebuild the neighborhoods.
At that time, SAHA made a commitment to work with community stakeholders on the redevelopment options for which the settlement fund would be used. Those meetings with community stakeholders have been ongoing, and the Westside Development Corp (WDC) has been engaged to serve as community liaison in these efforts.
In 2013, SAHA procured WestEast Design Group (“WestEast”), a local architecture, design and construction management company, to perform individual assessments of the 87 SAHA-owned homes in the four Westside Reinvestment Initiative subdivisions of Blueridge, Villas de Fortuna, Sunflower and Palm Lake.
WestEast began their assessments with the 39 SAHA-owned homes in the Blueridge neighborhood. Based on their assessments, WestEast determined the homes to be in significant disrepair, due to the fact that the homes had been vacant for up to 10 years, and during that time were subject to severe acts of vandalism (e.g. plumbing pipes broken off in foundation; stripped out electrical wiring; removal of most fixtures, such as sinks, toilets, faucets, and tubs; and damage to electric panels, etc.).
Therefore, WestEast recommended demolition of those 39 homes and the new construction of new homes in their place, and SAHA’s Board of Commissioners approved this recommendation in February 2014. New home designs and floor plans were presented to the community.
Simultaneously, SAHA made a commitment to consult with the neighborhood regarding future decisions to address the vacant homes and long term revitalization strategies. The National Association of Latino Community Asset Builders (NALCAB) facilitated three (3) meetings with current Blueridge home owners and surrounding residents who expressed concerns about neighborhood security and lighting and who contributed ideas for redesign of the vacant homes. NALCAB recommended that SAHA establish a community improvement and promotion strategy that delivers immediate value to residents and creates a market momentum toward eventual sales of the 39 homes.
SAHA engaged the Westside Development Corporation (WDC), a City of San Antonio Council-created organization, to continue a community outreach process during the neighbourhood rebuild process. WDC has the ability to work within the City system to educate residents on existing programs and services. Two monthly meetings have been held to date Blueridge residents. SAHA Development staff will continue to meet with residents to develop plans to keep them informed of pre-rebuild activites and the marketing of the soon-to-be constructed, for-sale, new homes in Blueridge.
Currently, SAHA is working with WestEast on pre-demolition activities related to Blueridge and the assessment of the homes in Villas de Fortuna, Palm Lake, and Sunflower.