31 March 2010

Austin is Highest Rental Market in TX

Austin Business Journal

Austin is the most expensive city in Texas for paying rent and buying a home, according to a study released this week by Washington D.C.-based Center for Housing Policy.
The study “Paycheck to Paycheck" compares and ranks costs in more than 200 metro areas in the United States and ultimately concludes homeownership is still unaffordable for many workers despite low interest rates and steep drops in home prices.

Austin ranks as the 65th most expensive U.S. rental market and the 73rd most expensive homeownership market of all metro areas studied. The center studied data provided by the National Association of Home Builders, the National Association of Realtors and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Austin’s median home price is $176,000, unchanged from 2008, the study found. However, Austin’s ranking rose to No. 73 for 2009 compared with No. 84 in 2008.

The markets with the highest median home prices were in California: with San Francisco and San Jose leading the way, followed by Honolulu in third place, and then back to California in Santa Ana and Santa Cruz in fourth and fifth place respectively.

The typical rent for a two-bedroom home rose in 89 percent of the markets studied, with Austin’s price hitting $954 in 2009 from $912 in 2008, although Austin did fall in rankings down to 65 from 59. Once again, San Francisco was the most expensive city at $1,760.

Despite some perceptions it’s a renter’s market in the U.S., the study found that in the vast majority of metropolitan's fair market rents have held steady or increased, even occasionally surpassing monthly mortgage payments for a median-priced home.

The study also found that some occupations are more prone to being priced out of renting. Specifically, retail salespeople continue to be priced out of renting a two-bedroom apartment in every market studied. Janitors fare almost the same, being able to afford a two-bedroom apartment in only one of the 210 rental markets studied. Licensed practical nurses are unable to rent a two-bedroom apartment in 55, police officers in 12, and elementary school teachers in 11, of the markets studied.

“We must develop the common sense, cost-effective policy solutions at the state and local levels that will help ensure long-term affordability for homes and Austin apartments,” said Center for Housing Policy Chair John K. McIlwain, senior resident fellow and the J. Ronald Terwilliger chair for housing at the Urban Land Institute.

“Otherwise, our workforce will face longer commutes and higher transportation costs, leading to increased traffic congestion and adverse environmental impacts."

29 March 2010

Gables Residential Sells Dallas Apartments to California Investor

Dallas News

A California real estate investor has made its first push into the North Texas apartment market.

CIM Group's purchase includes two properties in the popular West Village neighborhood in Dallas' Uptown district: the 103-unit 3636 McKinney apartments and the 75-unit West Village apartments, at 3839 McKinney Ave. CIM also purchased the 334-unit Knoxbridge apartments, near the corner of Knox and Travis streets.

The investor, which specializes in urban-style real estate projects, bought the rental units from Gables Residential, which owns or manages more than two dozen apartment communities in the Dallas-Fort Worth apartments area.

The West Village properties were built in 2005 and are on top of retail space. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed, but the units are valued for taxes at almost $22 million.

The Knoxbridge, constructed in 1993 and 1995 at 4649 Cole, is listed on the tax rolls at more than $27 million.

As part of the deal, CIM also bought a Gables project in Houston apartments.

Gables will continue to manage all the Texas properties, which total 820 units.

Gables senior vice president Doug Chesnut said the developer decided to sell the properties because it was "overweighted" with Dallas-area apartments and had more in the works.

"We took the opportunity to move assets," Chesnut said.

CIM said in a statement that the apartments it bought are all in "districts positioned for economic expansion."

The investor also owns a mixed-use development called Penn Field in Austin.

CIM is a real estate fund manager that makes both private equity and debt investments in urban communities across North America. It has offices in Los Angeles, Oakland, Calif., and Bethesda, Md.

The Gables Dallas apartments sale is the second recent transaction involving high-end North Texas rental properties.

In December, Nebraska-based Slosburg Cos. purchased the five-story Delante Las Colinas apartments.

25 March 2010

Forecasters Improving at Tornado Prognostication

Fort Worth Star-Telegram

For all their fury, thunderstorms are fragile things, dependent on a delicate balance of wind, water and heat.

Too much wind at a certain altitude can scatter storm clouds before they form. A storm's own rain can smother the columns of rising air that give the storm its strength.

Even rarer are storms that spin off a tornado. And it's rarer still for a tornado to hit a populated area and kill people.

It's happened only once in Fort Worth -- a decade ago. The storm killed two people, ripped houses from their foundations and pummeled several downtown high-rises.

The chance to spot a tornado -- and sound the warning early enough to save lives -- has spawned a corps of volunteer storm chasers who work with the National Weather Service every spring. And they're getting better at what they do.

Advances in radar and computer mapping have helped forecasters get a better idea of how severe storms work. For instance, forecasters originally thought that the storm that struck Fort Worth on March 28, 2000, was going to hit close to North Loop 820. They quickly adjusted their warning, Fox said. But today, the weather service would have a more accurate picture of the storm before it spawned a tornado.

Still, the weather service relied on a corps of more than 3,000 volunteer storm spotters.

"Even with all those technological advances, the electronic tools still don't show us all that's going on with a storm," said Gary Woodall, chief of the weather service's Phoenix bureau.

The idea of using volunteers started in Dallas-Fort Worth, the biggest metropolitan area in Tornado Alley, which stretches from Texas to Iowa, said Martin Lisius, chairman of the Texas Severe Storm Association and a storm tracker since 1987. During a typical storm, 20 to 40 volunteers take to the streets, communicating with ham radios. They provide crucial on-the-ground information to the weather service.

"You don't see them; they're sort of like unsung heroes, but they're out there," Lisius said.

About 450 storm spotters, Red Cross volunteers, students and other enthusiasts attended a storm association conference Saturday in Colleyville.

Most of the conference dealt with technical issues: wind shear, cold pools, rear flank downdrafts.

What most worries the spotters is the theoretical big one -- a severe tornado hitting a populated area.

Three years ago, an F-5 tornado, the top category on the Fujita scale, struck Greensburg, Kan., laying waste to 99.8 square miles. Eleven people were killed and more than 60 injured. By comparison, the 2000 Fort Worth twister had a footprint of 0.5 square mile.

But Greensburg is a small town. If the same storm struck, say, the Arlington entertainment district on a busy night, it could be devastating. Scott Rae, a planner with the North Central Texas Council of Governments, overlaid a map of the Metroplex on maps of the Greensburg storm to estimate that such a storm would affect 265,000 people in 111,000 Fort Worth apartments and houses.

Lisius projects that if it hit on a Friday night in April -- with crowds arriving for Good Friday church services and a Texas Rangers game -- hundreds or thousands of people could die. The roads would be too jammed for people to escape, and things would only get worse if drivers tried to take shelter under freeway overpasses, which is common during storms.

"A lot of them are not going to be able to get out of the path of the storm," Lisius said.

The upside is that the warning system is getting better. In 1986, 30 to 40 percent of the weather service's tornado warnings had no lead time, said Mark Fox, the warning coordination meteorologist at the service's Fort Worth office. By 2009, 80 percent of the warnings had lead time -- usually 10 to 12 minutes.

"Our average last year was about 12 minutes," he said.

Fox says the lead time could eventually reach 30 minutes. At that point, he said, the problem would become one of education: "Making sure people know what to do and making sure they believe the warning when they hear it."

24 March 2010

Census Undercount Could Cost Texas Money, Political Clout

Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Think of it as the equivalent of tabulating Texas and forgetting Arlington.

An estimated 373,567 people in Texas were uncounted in the 2000 Census, second only to the 522,796 that were missed in California.

The undercount cost Texas about $1 billion in lost federal funds, according to a PriceWaterhouseCooper report on the census. Fort Worth, where the undercount was pegged at 24,661, lost $62.3 million in federal funds, the report said.

As the U.S. Census begins mailing its national questionnaire this week, it pays to be counted because power and money are at stake, says Gabriel Sanchez, regional census director for Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi.

The once-a-decade head count determines congressional reapportionment, and State Demographer Karl Eschbach believes that Texas, which has been the big gainer in U.S. population in recent years, will be the overall winner in added political clout. He predicts that Texas will add four seats in the U.S. House.

A new report illustrates the fiscal power of the count.

In 2008, $447 billion in federal funds were distributed based on the 2000 Census and later updates, according to the Brookings Institute, a nonprofit that examines U.S. public policy.

A Brookings study shows that 80 percent of the money tied to the census goes to state governments, many of which, like Texas, are struggling with budget shortfalls, said Andrew Reamer, who wrote the report.

In Texas, Reamer said, nearly $1,000 in Medicaid funds will be returned to the state for every person counted. "The key point here is that census participation means more money locally," he said.

Hard to count

Multiple factors make Fort Worth and Texas tough to tally, Sanchez said.

"Obviously, you have a lot of Hispanics and a lot of recently arrived immigrants. There has also been a lot of growth, and those people aren't as tied to the community as a family that has been here 25 years. You also have a lot of young children," who, historically, have been missed more often than people in any other age group, Sanchez said. "People forget about the baby."

The state also has 80 percent of the U.S.-Mexico border, which presents a different set of problems, he said.

"You have a lot of interaction back and forth across the border. And how those border communities feel about the federal government and how they interact with it -- they have to be approached in a different way," Sanchez said. "There are also large number of immigrants from Mexico that aren't as integrated as one would hope, and that leads to language barriers and cultural barriers."Another factor is Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Ike, which destroyed vast tracts of housing in Texas and Louisiana, Sanchez said.

"We send forms to housing units and Fort Worth apartments, and if they've been destroyed we have problems. You might have one address with three trailers parked in the back," he said. "So we're hand-delivering questionnaires in the areas that have been hit by hurricanes."

Not to be discounted is the "true Texas independent spirit, which makes it a great place to live but a hard place to try to get a form back from everybody," Sanchez said.

22 March 2010

Dallas Housing Stimulus Effort Slow to Spend $25 Million

Dallas News
North Texas received more than $25 million in federal stimulus funds last fall to move homeless people into Dallas and Fort Worth apartments and prevent others from losing their homes because of the tough economy.

But so far, only a fraction of the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program money – about $2 million – has been spent, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which oversees the program. The amount may be slightly higher because of a lag time for reporting the expenditures to the federal government.

The program was designed to provide temporary relief to people who need help with rent or utilities because of circumstances such as job losses or medical crises.

Things are off to a slow start.

Many applicants have been waiting for weeks just to get an appointment to apply for the help. And some agencies distributing the assistance say they have been overwhelmed with requests and do not have enough staff to keep up with the demand and extensive documentation.

In Dallas, where applicants have complained about long waits, the city is evaluating whether more staffing is needed.

Three charities withdrew from the program because they said they did not have adequate staff to carry out its requirements, said Bernadette Mitchell, assistant director of the city of Dallas' housing and community services. She said others are reporting problems with the online system they're supposed to use to enter client data.

"The city of Dallas is very concerned and we are evaluating the need for more staff persons to address this particular issue," she said in an e-mail. She said the city has contacted agencies that applicants have complained about for not responding to phone calls.

"The volume of people trying to access the service is overwhelming the system," she said. "Only a certain number of people can be fully interviewed for assistance and provided other needed referrals per day."

Other officials worry that many of those eligible – especially those who have never used social services before – don't even know about the assistance, which has mainly been publicized by fliers, posters and word of mouth.

"There's a lot of money in Dallas that people don't know they could access," said Paige Flink, executive director of The Family Place, which helps family violence victims. She said The Family Place received $1.3 million in stimulus funds and has distributed more than $150,000.

The meeting

A Feb. 16 meeting highlighted the lack of awareness about the program.

Only four people attended the public meeting at Dallas City Hall to learn how to apply for the funds. All were homeless and had seen fliers or heard about the event from a friend.

But they learned that the help would not come fast: They were told it would take up to a month just to get an appointment to apply for the aid, and as many as four months to move into an apartment.

London Brooks, one of the attendees, left frustrated. He said he was in a hurry to get out of a shelter after sleeping on the floor because there weren't enough cots.

"I'm trying to get out of that place as quick and fast as I can," said Brooks, whose unemployment benefits recently ran out.

Brooks called several agencies before finally getting an appointment with the Urban League of Greater Dallas' office in Garland last week. He said he was told that he could not qualify for the assistance without some type of income. Brooks, who attends school to train for an electronics career, said he's looking for a job so he can qualify.

Shirley Walker, the Urban League's senior vice president for community services, said the program aims to make sure recipients can sustain themselves after the temporary help runs out.

"Otherwise, what have we done for him?" Walker said. "We've caused him to fail and we've also put a blemish on his credit and he won't be able to get housing once he does meet those other requirements. It's like a double-whammy."

Walker said her agency is short-staffed.

"I want to assure you, I know all of the people in this community care and are trying the best they possibly can with the constraints they have," she said. "If our clients just give us a chance, we'll work to the best of our ability to serve them."

Yvette Jackson, another person at the City Hall meeting, also said she wants to move out of a Dallas shelter as soon as possible. More than a week after the meeting, Jackson still had no appointment. She said the agencies on a list did not call her back or did not allow her to leave a message.

"Living in a shelter is something I'm not used to," said Jackson, who came to Dallas 10 months ago after losing her job.

She eventually found housing through another program not tied to the stimulus money.

'As expeditiously as possible'

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 provided $1.5 billion nationwide. The program can pay rent and utilities, but not mortgages, for people who meet very specific criteria.

HUD announced the rapid rehousing program in February 2009, but people could not apply for the aid in many local cities until late last year or January.

During that time, the federal government entered contracts with state and local governmental agencies and provided training so they could distribute the funds in North Texas. Some of those agencies solicited nonprofits, like The Family Place or the Urban League, to help disburse the funds, which go directly to landlords or utility companies.

Agencies found the process was not as simple as handing out money.

They need extensive documentation – such as financial records and Social Security cards – that some applicants have had trouble getting together. They also need to make sure the Texas apartments people rent charge fair market rents, have been inspected and accept the federal payments. Some clients have been rejected because of bad credit records or felonies.

The city of Dallas received nearly $8 million, which it is sharing with several nonprofits. So far, about $333,000 of that has been spent, according to HUD. But the actual amount is at least $100,000 higher because of a lag time from when the city submits expenses to HUD for reimbursement, Mitchell said.

Governmental agencies and charities have three years to spend the funds, said HUD spokeswoman Patricia Campbell. She said that Dallas officials initially faced delays executing contracts with charities but that they expect a dramatic increase in the money given out now.

"We certainly are encouraging all grantees to spend the money as expeditiously as possible," she said.

Despite possible hurdles, the money is helping many families keep a roof over their heads.

In Plano, officials have distributed more than $35,000 since Jan. 1, according to HUD. The city received $509,050.

Garland, which received $304,952, has helped at least eight families and sent 20 more to search for North Texas apartments, said Tiffinay Slade-McClinton of the city's housing agency. So far, the city has spent $3,467, according to HUD.

Chelsea White, development director of the Housing Crisis Center in Dallas, said her agency has $184,877 to distribute – and is seeing a lot of people at the brink.

"There are households that, without this money, would probably be homeless," she said.

Across North Texas, agencies received more than $25 million through the federal stimulus package to move homeless people into Dallas apartments and prevent others from losing their homes because of the economic downturn.

The Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program is designed for people who only need temporary assistance to get back on their feet. It is not for the chronically homeless, who have disabilities and need long-term help.

The money can only be used for people who:

•Are homeless or would become homeless without the assistance.

•Have no other housing options and lack resources to obtain or remain in housing.

•Earn less than 50 percent of the area's median income of $23,650 for an individual or $33,800 for a family of four.

Applicants can call 2-1-1, a help line for social services, to be directed to the nearest agencies that offer the assistance. Applicants must have a consultation at the agency to determine the appropriate level of assistance. Documentation will be required to verify income and housing status.

16 March 2010

UTEP to Develop Mesa Property

El Paso Inc.

What happened to the Whole Foods deal?

For years, the city has been hoping for a developer to build a transit-friendly, high-density mixed-use neighborhood, but it has yet to happen.

The University of Texas at El Paso might be first to make that a hope a reality.

The university has a number of proposals from developers for the former Rudolph auto dealership. The almost eight-acre site is next to the Don Haskins Center and has frontage on both North Mesa Street and Sun Bowl Drive.

According to the university’s request for proposals, the development should include “large and small retail uses complementary to the University, multi-family housing as a part of the retail complex, and structured parking to serve the retail and residential uses.”

UTEP would maintain ownership of the land through a ground lease, similar to the deal it made with the developers of the Hilton Garden Inn, located a few blocks away at University and Oregon.

It won’t happen immediately. UTEP has requested proposals previously, and about three years ago almost had a deal with food retailer Whole Foods.

The deal fell through when the recession squeezed the life out of negotiations, said Cindy Villa, UTEP vice president for business affairs.

“We certainly were disappointed. It would have been a very good tenant for that area and would have fit with our vision of how to develop that area,” she said.

UTEP officials are hoping this turn of the wheel brings such a deal to conclusion, but the university can afford to wait.

“We’ll take the time to try to do this right and ensure we have the best possible options available to the university,” she said. “What the RFP does is give you the opportunity to view the proposals from various developers and then negotiate from there, so it can be a fairly lengthy process.”

The university was scheduling presentations from the bidders. Villa declined to say how many bidders made proposals or who they were, citing the need for confidentiality during the bidding and negotiating periods.

Negotiating points include the length, cost and other terms of the ground lease, and the possibilities for development are fairly wide open, Villa said.

“We may not get into whether Texas apartments have granite countertops but we want to have control or say over the nature of businesses on the site,” she said. “The other thing we definitely want control over is design. We would envision having it in the style of the university architecture.”

UTEP’s trademark building style is based on the ancient architecture of Bhutan.

The Rudolph site makes sense for mixed-use development for several reasons: Its location next to the Don Haskins Center draws crowds for evening and weekend events, and during the day, UTEP is a major employment center with the population of a small city.

The site is within walking distance of the medical cluster that includes Sierra Providence and Las Palmas hospitals, also major employment centers, and the Cincinnati Street nightclub and restaurant district.

The lot is flat, clear land along a major arterial, Mesa Street, which means it has plenty of traffic. According to the request for proposal, which uses 2002 figures, 32,646 cars per day pass the location.

Also, the city is working with UTEP on the Glory Road Transit Terminal, which will connect a high-speed bus line from Downtown to the university district.

Taking an even broader view, the site is less than two miles from Downtown to the south and the large-scale Montecillo proposed high-density mixed-use developments to the north.

“If there was a site for mixed use development, this is it,” said Mathew McElroy, the city’s deputy director for planning. “There’s ridiculous density in that area because of the hospitals and UTEP. You could have nurses walk or take the bus. People who work Downtown probably wouldn’t even need to own a car because they can walk to the Glory Road station.”

But despite all the promise, the fact is that such a development model doesn’t exist in El Paso.

“It’s hard to do those types of developments when you don’t have an area that can support it. This is the one area of El Paso that can,” said Bob Ayoub, president of Mimco, a real estate development company that made a proposal previously.

“We’d be interested in pursuing it again. It’s a great site. UTEP needs more housing and I think it’s great they’re finally getting going on it,” Ayoub said. “That piece of dirt needs to be developed.”

City Rep. Beto O’Rourke, who represents the area and has been a leading proponent for this kind of development, said the RFP had potential.

“I hope that UTEP and the developer they choose do something truly innovative here because the past history of development along Mesa is really uninspired. I think our community deserves a lot better,” he said. “I’m optimistic UTEP will be able to do that.”

10 March 2010

Missed Payment Rate Jumps on Dallas-Area Commercial Property

The Dallas News

An increasing number of Dallas-area commercial properties are falling behind in their mortgage payments.

At the end of last month, the missed payment rate for Dallas-area buildings with securitized mortgages was more than 33 percent higher than the national average, according to a new report by Trepp LLC.

The New York-based analyst tracks thousands of commercial properties across the country that are financed with securitized mortgages.

More than 9 percent of Dallas-area commercial properties with securitized debt were behind in payments at the end of February, according to Trepp's report, released Wednesday. The national delinquency rate was 6.72 percent.

The Dallas-area late loan rate has increased almost 200 percent from a year ago, said Paul Mancuso, vice president of Trepp, which provides real estate data and analytics.

"Although elevated, the [Dallas] region is well below the double-digit delinquency rates experienced in troubled states such as Arizona, Nevada, Florida and Michigan," he said.

Almost 160 Dallas-area commercial and investment properties are on the list of troubled real estate deals. The debt on these properties adds up to about $1.28 billion.

Among the largest real estate deals cited in the report is the Four Seasons Resort and Club in Las Colinas, which has been posted for foreclosure.

"Excluding the delinquent $175 million loan to the Four Seasons Resort and Club, the current delinquency rate would decrease significantly to 7.9 percent," Mancuso said.

Downtown Dallas' Harwood Center office tower and the Village on the Parkway shopping center in Addison are also on Trepp's watch list.

The Dallas apartments sector with the highest mortgage delinquency rate is hotels. Almost 17 percent of securitized hotel loans here were behind in payments at the end of February. The office building delinquency rate was just over 12 percent.

Loan data from properties with securitized debt provides an important window into the health of the commercial real estate sector.

Trepp said the nationwide increase in late loans in February was 23 basis points,. It was the smallest increase in six months, but late loans are still at an all-time high.

In 2009, the number of commercial properties posted for foreclosure such as Dallas-Fort Worth  apartments area jumped almost 27 percent.

03 March 2010

City Incentives Spurring El Paso Apartments

El Paso Inc.

Incentives designed to stimulate the construction of apartments in El Paso are working, city officials say.

Almost 2,000 units have been put under contract since the incentives were approved by City Council less than a year ago, according to Kathy Dodson, the city’s director of economic development.

“I am thrilled about the results we are having,” she said. The program was created to provide off-post housing for the influx of soldiers coming to Fort Bliss.

One project taking advantage of the incentive program is The Bungalows, a 431-unit complex on the Eastside that’s being built by Bohannon Development.

Tom Bohannon, the company’s president, said units in the first phase will be ready to rent as early as next month. The rest should be finished by September 2011, he says.

But even with incentives, Bohannon says it’s still not the level of return on investment that would normally attract outside companies.

In the slow economy, builders are finding it hard to secure financing, while the cost of construction is high.

“You really need to want to build in El Paso, because it is very difficult to make the numbers work,” Bohannon said. “We have made some sacrifices in terms of the money we earn to do it.”

The incentive program rebates developers up to 100 percent of fees normally required by the city. It will expire when 4,000 units have been put under contract, unless City Council extends it, Dodson said.

Trouble brewing
In early 2009, the message was that this summer would be the breaking point when there would be more demand for off-post housing then there are places to live.

That spawned forums, studies and meetings between Fort Bliss leadership, the development community and city officials.

Many of the new soldiers are young, low in rank and not ready to be homeowners. They’d be looking for apartment in a market with a 94-percent occupancy rate for existing units, according to the El Paso Apartment Association.

And all that led to the city passing the incentives package.

Tom Fullerton, professor of economics and finance at the University of Texas at El Paso, cautions that there can be unintended consequences.

“Incentivising” the construction of that many units could put other apartment complexes out of business, he said, so the net gain might not be as high as expected.

Right now, Dodson said, they estimate that about 6,000 multi-family units need to be built to accommodate the incoming soldiers, but the number is only a rough estimate.

The stock of multi-family units in the city is projected to increase by about 200 this year, according to a report released in December by the University of Texas at El Paso’s Department of Economics and Finance. It also projects that multi-family starts will increase 32 percent.

The influx of troops to Fort Bliss is now 60-percent complete, according to Col. Edward Manning, garrison commander of Fort Bliss. The movement is projected to draw to a close sometime in 2012.

That timeline is important for builders, since it typically takes a year to work through the planning and financing stages of a new apartment complex, and two to three years to finish construction.

Bohannon says his company is approaching new projects conservatively, and not basing decisions solely on the hope of some future demand driven by growth at Fort Bliss.

“In today’s lending environment, that is really the approach to take,” he said.

What is clear is that soldiers have been able to find housing so far.

“Despite a high occupancy rate in the city, we don’t have people coming and saying they can’t find a place to live off-post,” said Col. Edward Manning, garrison commander of Fort Bliss.

To help soldiers who want to buy a home, Fort Bliss holds quarterly home buying seminars and classes.

“It makes better sense to help (soldiers) purchase homes because it is an investment,” said Yolanda Brown, director of the Fort Bliss housing office.

According to Desert View Homes’ marketing director Linda Cara, although they do see soldiers, there hasn’t been a major influx.

The company builds homes priced as low as $90,000 aimed at the first-time homebuyer.

“One of the neat things we are seeing,” Cara said, “is that they’re coming in and surprised that they can afford a home in El Paso.”

Incentives program

• Incentives available for new multi-family Texas apartments projects with at least 250 units

• Property tax increases resulting from new development will be used to rebate builders the city fees they pay

• One quarter of fees will be rebated for building 250-500 units, half of fees for 501-749 units, and all fees will be rebated for 750 or more units

• Developers must submit detailed site plan for approval by Development Services