Two sides to Baxter plan

HARLINGEN — Downtown property owners and merchants argue the downtown area lacks parking spaces for a proposed $4.5 million project that would turn the city’s tallest building into a largely low-income apartment development.

In a public hearing last night, property owners and merchants urged officials with the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs to deny a developer’s request for federal tax credits to help fund the Baxter Building’s renovation.

The agency’s board of directors will consider the comments as it decides whether to award developer MRE Capital the tax credits July 28.

Bill DeBrooke, chairman of the Harlingen Downtown Improvement District, argued the developer’s plans appear to lack parking for the proposed 24-unit development.

“My biggest problem is parking,” said DeBrooke, who owns several downtown buildings. “There are no parking accommodations in the plans. This project makes no sense at that location.”

Downtown merchant Leo Garza said his customers have trouble finding parking spaces as more businesses open along the Jackson Street area.

But City Commissioner Tudor Uhlhorn and attorney Curtis Bonner argued the downtown area had enough parking spaces to accommodate the Baxter Building’s tenants during its heyday as a bustling nine-story office building.

“We have plenty of room for parking in downtown Harlingen,” Uhlhorn said.

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