Downtown El Paso’s slow-to-grow housing market is getting a new addition when a 13-story office building is remade into an 80-unit, high-end apartment complex.
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The 300 E. Main building’s owners are to get up to $1.2 million in city and county tax rebates over 15 years to help pay for the project if all requirements are met under economic development agreements approved by El Paso City Council and El Paso County Commissioners Court.
City Council also approved giving the owners additional subsidies of up to $2.4 million over 10 years, beginning in November 2023, through a City Master Incentive, which will be tied to the project’s profits and costs. Payments from that incentive are funded with money from El Paso Electric’s city franchise fees.
Do you pay an electric bill? The City is taking money from El Paso Electric’s ratepayers and giving it to real estate speculators to build high-end apartments downtown.
Why is the City subsidizing high-end apartments? Can’t the people who rent high-end apartments afford high-end apartments?
El Paso City Manager Tommy Gonzalez recently told City Council that providing tax incentives to get Downtown housing projects built is important because Downtown needs more housing to increase the population density needed to make it thrive.
“For Downtown to be truly vibrant, to have the restaurants, the retail necessary for a downtown to be vibrant, and for the streetcar to be heavily used, part of the planning needs to include this (residential) density,” Gonzalez said.
Oh, it’s for the streetcar. When a private business makes a bad decision, they have to eat their losses. When the government makes a bad decision, they just keep pouring money into it.
I guess the people who rent those high-end apartments will need to take the streetcar up to their classes at UTEP. Or maybe for their weekly jaunt to the Hal Marcus Gallery. Or, let’s see. What else is on the streetcar route? Providence Hospital?
And “the retail necessary for a downtown to be vibrant”? Retail delivers these days. Mr. Gonzalez should get out more, but he doesn’t have to, because Amazon will bring him whatever he wants.
Downtown’s for rich people. The City just needs the poor people to pay for it.