Basement flooding at Baxter Lofts delays move-in

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HARLINGEN — Move-in day for the renovated Baxter Lofts has been delayed again due to flooding after the heavy storms two weeks ago.

The city’s historic downtown district received what business owners say was 10 to 12 inches of rain during the storm and numerous businesses were flooded with water as deep as 16 inches.

Suzanne Davis of the Baxter Lofts leasing office said yesterday water damage was limited to the basement and the first floor.

“We do have a new date,” she said. “We’re not sure, but we’re shooting for August. Unfortunately, it just caused a lot of destruction before the move-in.”

Last July, MRE Capital, a Kansas City, Kansas, developer, launched a $4.5 million renovation project of the historic structure and had hoped to allow a mix of low-income and other tenants to move into the Baxter Lofts building in May.

But construction delays pushed the move-in date back to July, and the flooding aftermath has delayed it again.

Developers reserved 19 of the building’s 24 units of one- and two-bedroom apartments as affordable housing while the other five units will be priced at market rates.

Davis said 16 of the 24 available properties have been leased.

The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs awarded the developer $3.3 million in federal tax credits to help fund the construction, and MRE Capital must rent a certain number of units as affordable housing to comply with federal guidelines.

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

While the Baxter Building had its basement water problems, the rest of the downtown area, particularly on the west side of the district along Van Buren Street, was hit hard.

“Part of the problem on the west side, Larry (Keim) was saying the church that’s doing the construction, some of their drywall got into the drains,” Bill DeBrooke, a Downtown Improvement District board member, said at a meeting last week.

“Some of their cut pieces that I guess probably they had sitting outside or something, at Logos Church,” fellow board member Keim responded.

Just down the street at the former Rio Grande Grill at 417 W. Van Buren, 16 inches of water inundated the interior during the height of the storm, downtown business operators said.

Other businesses damaged by flooding were described as having just a couple of inches to up to double-digit inches of rainwater due to the storm.