15 February 2010

Committee Holds off Deals for Apartments

Seguin Gazette Enterprise

SEGUIN — The city’s abatement committee, in its monthly meeting Thursday, took no action on a request for the city to consider granting property tax abatements for builders of multiple-family housing developments.

The possibility of granting abatements for apartment complexes was brought to the committee by Jim Price of American Realty Associates who said he had been working with Ron Inscore, developer of the Ranch at State Highway 123, a 180-unit complex scheduled to begin construction in April.

“We all recognize that Seguin needs good multiple-family housing,” Price said, reminding the group of the need for such housing after Caterpillar and its suppliers go into production. He said industrial development and housing development are linked.

Price said new residents who start out living in apartments in Seguin eventually will become homeowners in Seguin and those who work here but live in New Braunfels apartments probably will become homeowners there.

Providing committee members with a photo of San Antonio apartments built by Inscore in San Antonio and additional data about the local complex, Price said the Ranch at State Highway 123 will cost an estimated $12.8 million. This includes almost $1.5 million to buy the land and $10.2 million for construction. During construction, an estimated average of 100 workers will be at the site earning some $16,000 per day.

Price said the opening of the Ranch at State Highway 123 would produce only five new jobs with an annual payroll estimated at $118,000. However, the developer will pay fees totaling more than $313,500 to the city of Seguin, and the city’s annual taxes on the complex, based on the current rate, will amount to more than $59,000.

The committee also was given a chart comparing rental rates for the Ranch at State Highway 123 with the rates at existing apartment complexes in Seguin. Of the 180 units to be built, 124 are one-bedroom units renting for $593 to $888 monthly, 48 are two-bedroom units renting at $998 monthly and eight are three-bedroom units renting at $1,186 monthly.

“We have several other proposals,” City Manager Doug Faseler said, pointing to sites on a PowerPoint map where other apartment complexes are in various stages of pre-construction development. “As you can see, we’re getting a lot of interest in multiple-family housing.”

Terry Trevino, executive director of the Seguin Economic Development Corp., showed the committee a chart listing cities that city staff had contacted about offering tax abatements for multiple-family housing and San Antonio apartments. The cities included New Braunfels, San Marcos, Schertz, Kyle, Buda, Converse, Hutto and Fort Worth. None of the cities offer such abatements except for low-income housing or projects in reinvestment zones.

“We fully understand the need for housing in the community,” Trevino said. However, “I cannot favorably recommend an amendment to our guidelines.”

County Judge Mike Wiggins asked about the legality of granting abatements for apartment complexes.

City Attorney Andy Quittner said the complex would have to be located in a reinvestment zone, and Trevino said the Ranch at State Highway 123 is not in a reinvestment zone.

When Chairman Mark Herbold called for a motion on the issue, Wiggins suggested the committee take no action. “There’s clearly a number of questions that need to be answered,” Wiggins said, adding that taking no action might be preferable to voting to deny the request. “It doesn’t slam the door nor does it open the door.”

After hearing no objections to Wiggins’ recommendation, Herbold said: “The consensus of the board is to take no action.”

The committee also voted to recommend approval of abatements for two businesses locating in the downtown historic district.

Advanced Home Health at 200 S. Austin St. claimed improvements totaling $126,575 and, based on the current tax rate, will receive an abatement amounting to $582 per year for five years for a total of $2,910.

The Ticket at 204 S. Austin documented improvements totaling $46,339 and will receive an abatement amounting to $213 per year for a five-year total of $1,065.

Having been recommended for approval by the Main Street Advisory Board and the Abatement Committee, the tax abatements for Advanced Home Health and The Ticket will be submitted to the City Council for final approval.

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