Baxter Building renovation closer to reality

HARLINGEN — The second time around, a $4.5 million project to renovate the city’s tallest building might become a reality.

The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs has given the project to renovate the Baxter Building into a largely low-income apartment development the highest preliminary score in the area.

On July 27, the agency’s board of directors will determine whether to give developers MRE Capital federal tax credits to help fund construction costs, spokeswoman Jill McFarren said from Austin.

Since last year, the Kansas City, Mo., developer has applied for federal tax credits as part of its plan to restore the nine-story building to its original condition while turning it into a 24-unit apartment development that would include 19 low-income units.

Mayor Chris Boswell, who has turned the project into a major goal of his administration, has called the nine-story building’s renovation a turning point in the decades-old drive to revitalize the city’s downtown area.

But downtown property owners have opposed the project, warning a 24-unit apartment development would bring too many tenents and cars into the small downtown business district.