Socialism for the Rich, Chuco-Style

Maybe you’ve been wondering what the taxpayers could do for the Hunts and WestStar Bank to thank them for all they’ve done for the city. You know. The Nursing School. The bird stage at the zoo. Uhh. I know there’s some other things.

I know! Let’s buy them an office tower!

From the El Paso Inc.:

El Paso-based Hunt Companies and WestStar Bank have teamed up to build a 14-story, $70 million office tower in Downtown El Paso.

On Tuesday, City Council approved an incentives package worth up to $15.2 million for the project. The office building will be called the WestStar Tower.

. . .

Jessica Herrera, director of the city Economic and International Development Department, said the project would boost Downtown redevelopment efforts.

Do you think that Ms. Herrera knows that the city’s median household income fell last year? That since 2012, the city’s population has only grown by 7,472 people, or 1.1 percent? That the real value of homes in the El Paso Independent School District fell by three percent last year?

Maybe we should all chip in and get Ms. Herrera a subscription to El Chuqueño.

“Along with the Marriott Courtyard, it’s one of the first high-rise buildings built in some time. And it adds to the overall Downtown employee base.” Herrera said. “You’re creating a catalyst to Downtown that can be easily seen from the freeway.”

What does that mean? “Along with the Marriott Courtyard, it’s one of the first high-rise buildings built in some time.” ???

And you can see it from the freeway! As if the eggbeaters weren’t enough!

WestStar bank plans to move its headquarters to the new tower, selling its current headquarters at 500 N. Mesa, [chairman and CEO of WestStar Bank Rick] Francis said. It would occupy three floors of the tower, have a commercial bank operation on the ground floor and employ 180 people at the new location.

Hunt Companies would also move in, said Josh Hunt, the company’s executive vice president. It would occupy three floors of the tower, bringing 175 employees to Downtown.

Hunt Companies has built high rises, research buildings and apartment towers across the country. The El Paso-based company and its affiliates employ more than 6,000 people and touch more than $30 billion in assets.

Well, jeez, if Hunt Companies and its affiliates “touch more than $30 billion in assets,” do you think $15.2 million in incentives is enough for a gift? They probably find that much in change lying under their sofa cushions. If only there were some way we, the taxpayers, could do more.

From the El Paso Times:

City Council has approved giving an El Paso joint venture up to $15.3 million in tax subsidies, tax abatements, and cash payments to build a Downtown office building.

But the $70 million project won’t be done unless El Paso County Commissioners also approve tax incentives, said Josh Hunt, executive vice president of Hunt Companies, a national real estate development and management group headed by Hunt’s father, Woody Hunt.

See, I told you $15 million wasn’t enough. Fortunately, Mr. Josh Hunt was thoughtful enough to come up with a way for us to do more. Thank you, Mr. Hunt!

Now, if only we could find a way to subsidize his ballpark every year for the rest of our lives.

2 comments

  1. This made me realize something I’ve been thinking about for a while. With the tax “incentives” offered to people for businesses to move here or build something, we the taxpayers are even more in the hole. The city has handed out somewhere around 100 million to 150 million in incentives lately. This means that’s 100 million NOT coming from businesses that the city will expect the taxpayer to make up. Another burden to add to bonds and CoOs that have been passed by the city. When are they going to realize there isn’t any more money they can take?

  2. What is it with all the crab-type folks getting upset that someone else is doing better than them? Seriously, this whole “how dare you give them free money!” attitude is getting old. What you guys always leave out is that Hunt will still be paying taxes on the property. Yeah, it sucks that they gamed the system a little by demolishing one building and making it into a parking lot but no one pays attention to that (why bother right?). Now the taxes on their parking lot aren’t likely to be that much but all that they get from incentives is that they don’t end up paying as much in taxes as they would otherwise, but only on the NEW stuff. Alternately they could go across the border to New Mexico and build something there (or just not build anything and keep making money off the parking lot).

    What’s even more annoying is that when people whine and pout about tax incentives “for the rich” they ignore the fact that a building’s life expectancy is what? 50, 70, 100+ years in some cases? So what if Hunt gets a discount for “up to” 10 years? If their building is appraised at that much they could easily get their $15.3M in less time then guess what? The City starts collecting all that money and they get to keep doing it forever.

    It feels like folks forget that cities and buildings generally have much longer lifespans than we do and even though 5-10 years is a lot for us, for a City it’s (hopefully) nothing. So why not forgo collecting some ADDITIONAL money for a few years as a way to lure companies in and get them to do stuff like this tower? Once it’s built they get that $15.3M extra FOREVER. Hell this is even better than getting a call center or something like that because even if they decide to move elsewhere they can’t pick up and move a property. Even if they fight to lower the valuation it won’t be lower than that of a parking lot or a 2 story building so everyone gets more money in a few years and they keep getting it forever. If you do the math, the amount that we “lose” by not keeping those taxes and other fees is trivial to the extra amount we make in the future and what’s even better is that it’s not up to some magical “oh we will collect more HOT taxes” type thing, its a real thing that goes up and they have to pay taxes on it and will have to keep paying taxes on it for as long as it’s there.

    So yeah keep fighting the fight on Duranguito and other actual injustices but why keep whining about this? It really just feels like bitching about it because people with lots of money cut deals that have a lot of zeros and we can’t even begin to dream of having that much money so we act like crabs and try to pull down the successful ones above us.

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