Move-in date pushed back for Baxter

Move-in date pushed back

HARLINGEN — Charlie Galvan is hoping to become one of the few tenants at Baxter Lofts to pay what she calls “the market rate.”

Most tenants of the city’s first high-rise apartment development are expected to pay lower rents.

But her income is too high to qualify for so-called “affordable housing.”

“They’re actually working on our application right now,” Galvan, a retired school district employee, said yesterday. “We’re supposed to get a call this week to see if we made the cut.”

Last July, MRE Capital, a Kansas City, Kansas, developer, launched a $4.5 million renovation project aimed at turning the city’s tallest eyesore into an apartment development offering so-called “affordable housing.”

As applications keep pouring in, some residents have already qualified to move into the city’s landmark high-rise apartment development, Suzanne Davis said yesterday at the new Baxter Lofts office located in the Harlingen Area Chamber of Commerce building.

But construction delays have pushed back their move-in date, which was set for this month.

At the time, the developers planned construction to be completed within about nine months.

Now, construction Superintendent Rodger Lewis has pushed back the project’s completion to the end of this month — tentatively.

“We tried to push it as hard as we can,” Lewis said as he worked in the building’s upper floors yesterday. “It’s a lot of work.”

Now, the move-in date has been pushed back to at least next month.

“We’re hoping we can move tenants in at the end of June or early July — but that’s very tentative,” Lewis said. “That’s what we’re shooting for.”

Market rate

The developers had said 19 of the apartment development’s 24 units would rent as affordable housing while the other five units would be priced at market rates.

Yesterday, Galvan said she’s applying for a one-bedroom unit renting at $625 a month — “the market rate.”

“I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get into the Baxter building,” Galvan said.

Interest high

On Facebook, Baxter Loft’s page has drawn more than 10,000 views, Davis said.

Since Davis began taking applications in March, interest in the milestone development has raged.

“We’ve gotten calls from as far as San Antonio and Houston,” she said.

Baxter’s draw

Galvan said the historic building’s mystique along with the downtown’s charm led her to apply.

“The historic district downtown is gorgeous and being the only high-rise in Harlingen is a plus,” she said. “As I’ve gotten older, it’s more appealing to be near the shops and the little restaurants.”

In her office, Davis said background checks continue to screen applicants.

“They are being really screened — background, everything,” she said. “Screening is for income and they are checked for credit.”

Galvan described the screening process as “amazing.”

“They do a pretty hard background check,” Galvan said. “It’s good to know you’re not living next to a criminal.”

Income guidelines

In late 2015, city commissioners entered into an agreement with MRE Capital to renovate the historic building to its original condition.

For decades, city leaders had talked about ways to rid the area of the historic building that had turned into a flop house looming over downtown.

When he won election to the mayor’s post in 2007, Mayor Chris Boswell made the building’s renovation one of his goals.

As part of an agreement, the Harlingen Community Improvement Board agreed to sell the Baxter Building to MRE Capital for $250,000 on the condition the developer was successful in clinching federal tax credits to help fund the $4.5 million renovation project.

Because the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs awarded the developer $3.3 million in federal tax credits to help fund the project’s construction, MRE Capital must rent the units as affordable housing following federal guidelines.

“There are a lot of people interested in this building but there are income stipulations,” Davis said.

As a result of federal guidelines, there are several factors taken into account when determining applicants’ qualifications.

Depending on income and other factors, Baxter Lofts will rent its one-bedroom apartments from about $239 to $600 while its two-bedroom apartments will rent from $275 to $800.

Individuals and families with incomes ranging from $11,880 to $33,900 might qualify to rent units.

Two-bedroom apartments will include households with up to four tenants.

Baxter Lofts, described as a “luxury” development, offers residents a unique opportunity to move into the city’s first high-rise development featuring an outdoor picnic area, a fitness center and a community room with computer work stations.