City of Del Rio

City of Del Rio

City council members on Tuesday created a “Downtown Historic District” encompassing a swath of south Del Rio to promote preservation and development of the area.

Del Rio City Council members discussed creation of the “Downtown Historic District” during Tuesday’s regular city council meeting.

Del Rio Economic Development Director Oriana Fernandez told council members the city’s Main Street Advisory Board had approved the ordinance during its last meeting and had recommended it be approved by the city council.

“Historically, (the city’s) planning department had worked with some committees in the past, starting in 2008, to get something of this nature passed, and here we are 12 years later, hoping that you all will consider it,” Fernandez told the council.

“This is something that’s needed to protect the facades of the buildings in our historic district,” Fernandez said, noting she had provided council members with a map delineating the district.

“It lies within the boundaries of the Main Street District,” she added.

Fernandez drew the council’s attention to the portion of the ordinance that allows the city to give tax incentives for property owners inside the district.

Under the ordinance, “a building, site or structure within the Downtown Historic District that is in need of tax relief to encourage preservation and which is substantially rehabilitated and/or restored as certified by the Historic Design Review Committee (HDRC) and approved by the city council, shall have an assessed value for ad valorem taxation as follows: 1. An abatement for rehabilitations at 100% for 10 years when costs exceed 50% of the structure’s pre-rehabilitated value.”

“I believe that this can potentially make us more attractive to businesses here and perhaps businesses from the outside looking to relocate to the downtown area,” Fernandez told the council.

Councilwoman Diana Bejarano Salgado asked if the 10-year period for the tax incentive was standard.

“When we drafted the ordinance, we did look at other cities, what they had, and that was typical. We looked at Fort Worth, because at the time Fort Worth had had a huge growth in its downtown district, and we saw that their historic ordinance also had that 10 years ... It ended up working really well for them,” City Planner Janice Pokrant said.

Mayor Bruno “Ralphy” Lozano asked how the rehabilitation value would be determined.

Pokrant replied the property owner would be required to submit a number of documents for review.

“So just to clarify: If you purchased a property for $100,000, you would need to invest $50,000 to qualify for the tax abatement?” Councilman Alfredo “Fred” Carranza Jr. asked.

Fernandez nodded her head in the affirmative.

Lozano made a motion to approve the ordinance, with Councilman Raul C. Ojeda giving the second. All seven members of the council approved the motion.

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