Construction of a new apartment complex near the Creekside shopping center continues Thursday.

With the possibility of such projects in the future, New Braunfels city officials are proposing an ordinance revision that would define efficiency and studio apartments and identify vehicle parking standards for those types of housing units.

Jean Drew, a senior planner with the city’s Planning and Development Review Department, told members of the Planning Commission on Tuesday that city staff had identified a need to determine an appropriate parking standard for efficiency and studio apartments that consist of one common room for living, with a separate room allowed only for the bathroom. 

“Recently in various development meetings, we’ve been approached by a number of different projects with interest in doing efficiency apartments, some are new developments, and some are redevelopments,” Drew said. “We discovered during the process that New Braunfels has no parking standards for efficiency apartments, nor do we define this use in our ordinance.”

Drew said owners of several existing hotels had expressed interest in the potential to convert their use from hotel to efficiency apartments, addressing both a nationwide trend and the need for one-family housing.

The proposed ordinance would define an efficiency apartment or unit as “a dwelling unit consisting of a single room for cooking, eating, sleeping and living, and a separate room for bath and toilet facilities also referred to as a studio apartment or unit.”

The proposal would fix the parking standard at 1.1 spaces per unit. For example, a building with five units would require six spaces after rounding up the number to accommodate tenants and visitors. A building with a single unit would only need one parking space.

In the agenda packet for Tuesday’s meeting available on the city’s website, Drew wrote to commissioners that “redevelopment of property is highly desirable from many perspectives.” 

“Adaptive reuse to meet current market needs prior to the existing use going into disrepair is desirable,” she wrote. “It is a luxury for a community to have such opportunities as not many communities have an economic climate that supports adaptive reuse. Utilizing existing infrastructure lowers the cost of service, providing economic and environmental benefits for the community.”

Drew added that the proposed new use of efficiency apartments would help address New Braunfels’ need for workforce housing, “while both maintaining an active use for the property and addressing the housing needs of a growing city.”

The Planning Commission did not take action on the proposal.

City council members get the final say on any proposed ordinance with two readings over separate meetings.

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