HARLINGEN — Like many downtown merchants, Mia Garza is worried about the future of the Baxter Building.

She is concerned the proposed $4.5 million renovation of Harlingen’s tallest building would bring crime and more parking problems to the Jackson Street area.

Merchants like Garza are now opposing a developer’s plan to turn the Baxter Building into a 24-unit apartment development that would include 19 low-income units.

Developers MRE Capital plan to offer apartments to residents with incomes as low as $15,720 for families of four, according to an application for federal tax credits filed with the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs.

“It’s not going to attract the right people,” said Garza, whose family owns Jackson Street Antiques. “It’s a terrible idea. We’ve made much progress in the last couple of years. We’ve been trying to give it a facelift. But bringing housing in is taking the opposite direction that Harlingen’s going.”

Garza said low-income residents could bring crime to the rows of businesses along the Jackson Street district.

“We’ve already been broken into,” Garza said.

She’s not the only one with concerns.

Carlos Betancourt said the business district is not the place for an apartment development.

“To put a low-income project across the street, it’s a slap in the face,” said Betancourt, owner of Carlito’s Wine House.

“I don’t have anything against low-income but it’s got its place. This is a bar. Now we’re going to have children running along the street. This is not a residential area. This is commercial.”

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