City considers cutting costs for Baxter project developer

HARLINGEN — Developers might save some money in their proposed $4.5 million project to renovate the city’s tallest building.

But it could cost the city some dough.

City commissioners today will consider allowing the reimbursement of as much as $1,000 in building permits in MRE Capital’s project to turn the Baxter Building into a largely low-income apartment development.

“That would be some form of assistance as part of our partnership,” City Manager Dan Serna said yesterday. “One thousand dollars doesn’t seem like a lot but it’s part of the process we were able to work out with them.”

The city’s assistance would come as part of MRE Capital’s second attempt to obtain federal tax credits to fund much of the construction costs in its plan to renovate the nine-story Baxter Building.

The plan is to convert it into a 24-unit apartment development that would include 19 low-income units.

This month, MRE Capital, a Kansas City, Mo., developer, submitted its pre-application for federal tax credits to the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs, agency spokeswoman Kristina Tirloni said from Austin.

The deadline for final applications is March 1.

The agency’s board of directors awards federal housing credits around mid year.

This year, the agency’s revised scoring criteria are expected to give MRE Capital a better chance of landing the tax credits, Serna said.

Mayor Chris Boswell has called the project the most important in the city’s campaign to revitalize the downtown area.

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