An affordable housing development proposed for Southeast Austin got a thumbs-up for a zoning change from the city’s Planning Commission last week despite challenges from members of the surrounding community.

Foundation Communities seeks to change zoning on the 8-acre property at 2105 Parker Lane to allow multifamily use in order to build an apartment complex that will offer 135 units to households that earn 60 percent or less than Austin’s median family income. Plans also include community benefits such as tenant services, a learning center, and open public space. 

Ward Memorial Methodist Church, which is no longer operational, owns the property. The Planning Commission voted 11-0-1 to recommend increasing the current single-family residence zoning (SF-3) with approved civic use to multifamily (MF-4), which would allow the density and uses called for by the proposed Foundation Communities project. District 6 commissioner Jennifer Mushtaler abstained from the vote.

The majority of the planned units will have two or three bedrooms, with 14 units reserved for families who have experienced homelessness.

 While city staff recommended MF-3 zoning, a representative for the developer said that the MF-4 designation will allow the project to include ample open space and keep its density lower than required for that zoning. Plans include preserving all heritage trees on the property.

One-third of property owners in the neighborhood—part of the Riverside-Oltorf area east of I-35— signed a petition opposing the rezoning, and several spoke against it at the commission’s meeting. Due to the opposition, the rezoning will need a supermajority of the City Council vote in favor of it for final approval. Its vote on the matter is slated for May 6.