City Council to vote on downtown facades fix funding

City Council to vote on downtown facades fix funding

POSTED: Sunday, March 2, 2014 - 11:12pm

UPDATED: Sunday, March 2, 2014 - 11:12pm

El Paso City Council may amend a plan aimed at incentivizing downtown property owners to fix up the facades of their buildings.

Under the program, the city - in conjunction with the Downtown Management District (DMD) - provides commercial property owners with dollar-for-dollar matching funds to renovate the front face of their buildings.

When the program was introduced in 2009, the grant was capped at $32,000. That amount has been amended and increased nearly every year as new projects have been approved and added to the list by the DMD. It currently sits at $323,000.

On Tuesday, city representatives will vote whether to amend the amount again, this time to $423,000.

NewsChannel 9 spoke with Former City Representative Steve Ortega about the grants. Ortega, who was a member of the city council when the program began in 2009, said the grants are an important part of the current wave of downtown revitalization efforts.

"With the upcoming ballpark that's about to open and with some of the investments that have already taken place downtown, I think downtown is shaping up to be where it needs to be," Ortega said, adding, "sometimes you need to give a little push."

The facade grant program is available to owners of properties that fall within the downtown Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone, or TIRZ.

Under a TIRZ, a portion of the taxes collected from properties located within the zone is set aside to pay for capital improvement projects like the facade program.

Tuesday's City Council meeting begins at 8 a.m.

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