San Benito starts $850,000 housing project

SAN BENITO — The effects of Hurricane Dolly’s strike in 2008 can still be seen in the Rio Grande Valley, but this city is moving to recoup some of the housing lost due to flooding.

Forty public housing units were torn down on Victoria Street due to flood damage from the storm. Now this city is putting some of the funds made available for rebuilding to work by constructing Magnolia Gardens on the site at a cost of $850,000.

“There will be eight family units, and six of them will be townhomes and two will be single-level, accessible units,” Yvette Nieto, executive director of the San Benito Housing Authority, said yesterday. “The previous sites were demolished because of flooding and the units became uninhabitable so they awarded the housing authority these monies so that we could replace or rebuild, so we’re trying to rebuild.”

The Magnolia Gardens housing will be next to a public housing unit called Stone Village Apartment Homes, but this new construction will be far more modern than the housing it is replacing.

The Harlingen architectural firm Megamorphosis is handling the design of the project.

“It’s more of a neighborhood style,” Nieto said. “We’re not doing just boxes and a parking lot. We’re building a neighborhood with green spaces, nice landscaping. They’ll have driveways, their own private driveways, and will be able to mesh more with the neighborhood.

“This is public housing, so it’ll still be based on the applicant’s income — 30 percent of their income,” Nieto said.

Nieto said the city currently is vetting a contractor for the project, and that work should begin in October and be finished in less than a year.

The Magnolia Gardens site now consists of grassy lots adjacent to a neat suburban neighborhood with open fields just beyond Stone Village.

Nieto said it isn’t the only such undeveloped residential site the city has, and she promised there would be more movement on adding housing in San Benito in the future.

“Actually we’re just getting ready to get engaged with a real estate developer because the housing authority owns other unimproved lands, so we’re hoping to add more affordable housing to the City of San Benito,” she said.

Magnolia Gardens

WHAT — Public housing

WHERE — 1299 Victoria St., San Benito

UNITS — Six townhomes, two ground-level units

COST — $850,000

WHEN — Completion date September 2019