City passes resolution to support the rehabilitation of Marfa Villa Apartments 

Representatives of Thomas Development Group LLC met with Marfa City Council on Monday to secure their support for a Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs tax credit application for the rehabilitation of the Marfa Villa Apartments. Residents had not yet been notified of the pending project. Photo by Mary Cantrell.

MARFA — At a Monday morning meeting, Marfa City Council passed a resolution in support of a plan to carry out a “complete rehabilitation” of every unit in the Marfa Villa Apartments on Golf Course Road — a plan that would require the temporary relocation of residents while their apartments are under construction.

The apartments are federally subsidized through the USDA’s Rural Development housing program and are currently managed by company JL Gray, which acquired the property in 2019. The property contains a total of 24 units including one-bedroom apartments, originally constructed roughly three decades ago, and two-bedroom apartments, which were recently rebuilt after a fire in 2015.

A developer called Thomas Development Group is applying for tax credits from the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs in order to carry out the renovations. A representative for the group, Jonathan Andrews, addressed City Council Monday via Zoom to briefly explain the project and garner councilmember support. 

“We’re applying for tax credits with the TDHCA for the property to do a complete rehabilitation of all the units inside and out, so the exterior buildings will get all new siding, lighting, and there will be security enhancements,” said Andrews. 

Exterior work could also include the construction of a new community building for residents to utilize, said Andrews, as well as sidewalk and parking lot repairs and playground improvements. He said the support of the city council would help bolster their TDHCA application to rehab the run-down facilities.

Through the state’s Housing Tax Credit Program, the federal government allocates tax credits to the state, which then awards the credits to affordable housing developers through a competitive process.

“It does need a lot of repair,” said Andrews. “We recognize that, so that’s the reason we are requesting support from the city council of Marfa because tax credit applications are extremely competitive.” 

The estimated cost of the rehabilitation was roughly $2,950,000, according to a “Development Narrative” document provided to City Council by Thomas Development Group. The project would “enhance the aesthetic look” of the apartments, according to the document, and include the painting of all buildings. Exterior siding, doors, windows, stairways and shingles — a recent visit to the apartment complex after high winds showed a number of fallen shingles on the grounds — would also be addressed, though it is not clear whether they would be replaced or repaired. 

Interior items to be addressed included refrigerators, ranges, range hoods, plumbing, cabinets, countertops, vinyl flooring, interior paint, ceiling fans as well as upgrades to make units compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The document states plans include temporarily housing residents on-site for the duration of the project “if units are available,” or, “if a unit is not available, tenants will be moved into a comparable rental unit until the rehab is completed.” Group representatives did not discuss relocation plans during Monday’s meeting.

Representatives for Thomas Development Group and management company JL Gray did not return requests for comment.

Council voted unanimously to pass the resolution, which Andrews assured them would “enhance and improve the quality of the resident’s lives.” 

The group submitted their tax credit application on March 1 and will find out if they were awarded the credits in July. Construction is planned to start in March 2024 and conclude in March 2025. It is not yet clear whether Thomas Development Group will proceed with the rehabilitation if tax credits are not awarded. 

According to the Thomas Development Group’s development narrative, residents were not yet notified of the potential project but would be informed via a community meeting prior to the start of construction. No Marfa Villa residents were present at Monday’s meeting.

A Marfa Villa resident, who asked not to be named, said they “had no idea” a potential rehabilitation project was in the works and as far as they knew the ‘repairs’ which would be addressed by the rehabilitation had not been informed by residents. 

The resident said they were concerned about the difficulties of having to temporarily relocate, both physically and financially. “They need to give us plenty of time to get everything packed or at least supply us with someone who is going to help us pack and pack everything correctly and not break anything or damage anything,” they said. 

The resident worried they would be moved to similar USDA subsidized housing in Alpine and have to commute to Marfa with no compensation, which they said was the situation for some residents after the 2015 fire. 

“There’s nowhere here in Marfa to move us. Are they going to put us up at the Hotel Paisano or the Hotel Saint George? I doubt it,” they said. “To me there’s no other place left to go.”