A proposed $8.5 million rental housing development that could be located near the City of Bishop received unanimous support from Nueces County commissioners on Feb. 12.
Commissioners voted in favor of a resolution supporting the project, which would be located north of County Road 70 on County Road 81A near Bishop.
The proposed housing project, called Casitas Los Ebanos, is being developed by “come dream. come build.” or CDCB, formerly known as the Community Development Corporation of Brownsville. CDCB is a non-profit organization.
CDCB Executive Director Nick Mitchell-Bennett said during the Feb. 12 meeting that the company develops “casita communities” with between 50 and 120 single family-style housing rental units.
“These are little houses that are right next to each other, between 800 and 1,000 square feet,” Mitchell-Bennett said.
According to documentation provided to the commissioners court, the $8.5 million, 8-acre project will have 50 single family-style one- and two-story home rental units.
They will include amenities like a flood resistant design, playground and green space, laundry room, community room, office space, leasing office and a mailbox kiosk.
Other CDCB housing projects include the 56-unit La Hacienda Casitas in Harlingen, the 80-unit Casitas Los Olmos in Raymondville and the 50-unit Casita Azucar that is under construction in Santa Rosa.
That project broke ground in June.
“We just finished the first five (units in Santa Rosa), and they’re already leased out,” Mitchell-Bennett said. “And we’re not even done with the other 45 yet. People like them, they look nice, they look pretty and they also remain that way from the way that we do the developments.”
After the presentation, Nueces County Judge Barbara Canales spoke in favor of the housing project, and said she wanted to hear more about what the CDCB could offer rural Nueces County.
“What I really love is the architectural design, the modernism and the idea that everyone can own their own home,” Canales said. “Or in this case, ‘casita.’ And this is so exciting and I wish you much success because the truth is we need this in a lot more rural areas besides Bishop.”
Pct. 2 Commissioner Joe A. Gonzalez said he was “really impressed” with the proposed Casitas Los Ebanos development and that now was “probably the right time” for the project.
“(Bishop) is just a growing area,” Gonzalez said.
In the resolution, Nueces County commissioners support the proposed project and confirm that in the event driveway permits and/or platting fees are charged to the project, the county will provide an in-kind contribution of a minimum amount of $250.
The resolution also states that CDCB intends to submit an application to the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs for 2020 Competitive Nine Percent Housing Tax Credits for the project.
Mitchell-Bennett said if the project does not receive those tax credits this year, the company would apply for them again in 2021 to move the development forward.
As for whether Casitas Los Ebanos would require any assistance from the City of Bishop to provide water or wastewater service for the units once they are built, Mitchell-Bennett said that was not the case.
“It would be great if the city could help us out or if the county could help us out,” he said. “Obviously I’m not going to turn that down, but if need be, we’d have to pay for it ourselves.
The CDCB is expected to go before the Bishop City Council during its scheduled regular meeting on Feb. 26 to discuss the Casitas Los Ebanos development.
Bishop Mayor Tem Miller said in an interview with the Kingsville Record that the housing development “sounds like a real exciting thing and could be great for Bishop.”
“But we’ve got to do some rearranging to get them inside our city limits before we can really do anything,” Miller said.
Miller said with the development on the north side of Hwy 70, the property falls just outside the city boundary of Bishop.
“And we’ll have to get water lines, sewer lines and all that kind of stuff out there to have a subdivision,” he said.
Miller said there are “several legal steps that are new” that would allow Bishop to add the property to the city, but he is still working with the city’s attorney on the details.
“It’s going to be an exciting project,” he said. “They’ve done this (type of project) in several places in Texas, especially in the Brownsville area, and it really looks like it’ll be a great deal for them to work with us, and us to work with them, and it will be great for our city.”