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The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

City council approves McLain Project

Jarell Carr

Mariah Price, an English graduate student, learned she would potentially lose her housing at Lindsey Oaks on April 14 from a note left on her door by the Tenant Advocacy Group (TAG) due to a city council vote taking place two days later.

“I don’t think any of [the tenants] knew until [the April 16 San Marcos City Council meeting],” Price said. “Any kind of notice would have been useful.”

San Marcos City Council voted 6-1 on April 16 to approve amendments regarding the McLain Project, a proposed high-rise apartment complex set to be built across the street from campus on the south corners of Lindsey and North Street.

“I hate that we’re losing this affordable housing,” Mayor Jane Hughson said at the April 16 meeting. “I truly do, but it is what it is.”

The two main amendments included changing the zoning from an existing neighborhood to a high-intensity downtown classification and approving a conditional use permit to allow purpose-built student housing.

To build the McLain, the Lindsey Oaks and The Elms apartments will both be demolished, and current residents will have until April 16, 2025 to vacate the apartments, according to the city council amendments.

The McLain Project was organized by Shannon Mattingly, a director of land use and entitlements at the Drenner Group, a real estate law firm that concentrates on land-use projects, and developer Matthew Kenyon.

The housing project will consist of two parts: a seven-story complex with a parking garage on the east side and a three-story complex on the west side.

“There’s a ton of positive things,” Kenyon said. “We talked to tons of business owners in the downtown area that were super excited about [the complex] because they now have a large number of students within walking distance to support their business.”

The McLain Project will move forward with concessions, such as prohibiting the developer from selling to a non-taxpaying entity, including Texas State, for the next seven years.

Another concession is holding spots for current residents from Lindsey Oaks and The Elms at McLain once it is built in three to four years. Additionally, residents over 57 and 10 families can pay a similar rent to their current rate if they choose to move into McLain when it is built.

Chair of the Hays County Historical Commission Linda Coker said she was initially opposed to the project but she now supports it moving forward.

“We have been kicked in the teeth [by developers] so many times that people automatically distrust,” Coker said. “I totally understand because I have the same reaction. I have fought a lot of properties, but this one, I just don’t see the fight.”

Kenyon said there is a demand among students for an additional housing complex, citing a petition organized last fall by students Austin Groeschel and Andrew Salem with over 1,200 signatures in favor of the complex, predominantly from students.

“I believe allowing developments in close proximity to downtown San Marcos and to the university campus would not only be the best and safest option in regard to students but would also allow businesses downtown to flourish,” Salem said at the April 16 meeting.

Leah Gonsalves, a PR sophomore, said she signed the petition last fall but was told it was in support of increasing parking on campus. However, Kenyon and the Drenner Group used her and her friends’ signatures to show support for the McLain Project at city council meetings.

“I didn’t know about the project to begin with,” Gonsalves said. “I thought it was about parking. He didn’t say where it was going or anything like that.”

Some community members have raised concerns throughout the process, often citing the city does not need more student housing and the proposed project would displace current residents and disrupt the neighborhood.

“[Families] are here because they can’t afford more rooms,” Price said. “No family wants to live five people in a one-bedroom, but that’s what they can realistically afford. It just sucks that the entire city is against the people who live in [Lindsey Oaks and The Elms].”

Jared Chumsae, TAG volunteer and San Marcos resident, said when doing outreach the weekend prior to the April 16 vote, only five of the 20 residents he spoke with at the two apartment complexes knew about the vote.

“These residents are really going to be out of luck [and] out of housing,” Chumsae said. “They’re going to be displaced from the area, maybe even the city, and I think that when we were knocking on doors, they had that realization themselves as well.”

The University Star reached out to Andrew Salem and Austin Groeschel for comment but received no response.

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