TIRZ approves old H-E-B building renovation assistance

by / 0 Comments / 291 View / May 28, 2015

By Devin Corbitt, The Belton Journal

The Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ) Board met on Monday to discuss the renovation of the old H-E-B building on the corner of Main Street and Sixth Avenue.

John Lewis Company, a real estate investment company in Austin, has proposed purchasing the property and transforming the building into a multi-tenant retail center. They plan to begin renovations this summer, with a completion goal set to before Christmas.

“While there are no signed commitments, the two principle tenants will be a Planet Fitness, taking a little over half the square footage of the building, and an ACE Hardware,” City Manager Sam Listi said.

The building will also have space for additional retail businesses. John Lewis hopes to add an outside display and storage area on the Sixth Ave. side for ACE, as well as a multi-tenant sign on the corner of Sixth and Main.

John Lewis plans to spend more than $3 million on the project. As such, the company has asked the TIRZ Board for assistance in purchasing and renovating the building, totally $120,000. Their request included $20,000 to help cover the costs of a remote fire department connection to replace the existing attached connection; $35,000 for submeter electricity; $35,000 for landscaping, signage and sealcoating the parking lot; $25,000 for façade work; and a waiver for the $5,000 city permit.

Of that amount, the TIRZ Board granted them $50,000 in cash value, plus the $5,000 waiver.  The cash value includes $10,000 for the remote fire department connection; $5,000 for the submeter electricity, per a revised request from John Lewis for that amount; and $35,000 for façade work.

The board unanimously voted in approval of the $55,000 in funds.

The meeting on Monday also included an amendment to the Façade Improvement Grant Program, allowing businesses with two façades adjacent to public streets or alleys to apply for two grants with a maximum grant of $20,000, as opposed to the current $10,000 limit.

This will specifically benefit businesses located on corners and aims to make the grant process more fair for local businesses with more than one façade facing a public street.

“A lot of these places have a much longer side than the front,” Erin Newcomer, City Planning Director, said. “We’re seeing that these building areas are paying a substantial amount compared to others that have interior (storefronts).”

The grant fund currently reserves $50,000 each year for façade improvements grants; however, that total has never been reached. As such, city officials felt that offering the additional grants would not place a burden on the grant fund balance.

The amendment was approved unanimously.