Haltom United Business Alliance Applauds First Steps, Awaits Plans to Help Small Businesses
HALTOM CITY, TX, October 27, 2021 /24-7PressRelease/ — Haltom City has tapped Trent Petty and Associates to present a plan for the creation of a Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ) on the Denton Highway and Belknap corridors. A TIRZ is a type of financing incentive that reimburses a developer eligible cost for approved infrastructure improvements.
The reimbursement comes out of the incremental property tax increase generated within the TIRZ boundaries. Simply put, a developer will front money to build in an area, and the TIRZ pays the developer back as the tax base in that area grows. Through this type of funding, private development may be encouraged, and the cost of building may be reduced.
A TIRZ can help provide public facilities in a timely and cost-effective way. It can help build or repair transportation, utilities, and other necessary services to meet the needs of the residents of the reinvestment zone.
Trent Petty’s presentation and explanation of the TIRZ can be heard in the video of the September 27 Haltom City Council meeting, starting at about 6 minutes into the presentation that includes slides with data about the proposed TIRZ.
During the presentation, Mr. Petty stated that the “decrepit” buildings in these corridors made the choice a good one but pointed out that a TIRZ cannot be spent on improving any private structures.
HUBA believes that South Haltom City is very different from the northern part of the city, and that any revitalization of the South will require different tools and approaches. The demographics of South Haltom City are different, and the buildings and homes are generally older.
“The City Manager of Haltom City has done a great job of bringing large distribution centers and helping with new home construction and business development in North Haltom City, especially around and north of 820,” said HUBA Communications Director Joe Palmer during an interview late Monday. “A new TIRZ could build on this progress, and we are very encouraged by this movement. However, it should be pointed out that, while something like this can be great for long-term planning, it is very unlikely to attract new business to the needed areas in the short term. And the people affected by conditions in those areas need help now, not next year.”
While optimistic, Palmer cautions that larger developers are the ones a TIRZ would benefit the most. “It’s highly unlikely that small businesses wanting to occupy an older vacant building can benefit from a TIRZ,” said Palmer.
“We hope Mr. Petty will review the recommendations from the third-party report, that was commissioned and presented to the city by our group earlier this year. We believe the data presented in this study would help guide the TIRZ process and enable the city to maximize the potential benefit of a TIRZ to the people of our city,” added Palmer.
Qualifying his encouragement, the HUBA spokesman pointed out that the TIRZ as presented appears to ignore Haltom City’s most run-down corridor, NE 28th Street. The city passed ordinances in 2003 that made most of the businesses in that corridor legal non-conforming when they could not fit in the new C-5 zoning category created by the city. As a result, the corridor is now mostly empty and very run down, Palmer contends.
“It might actually be the BEST candidate to benefit from the TIRZ, as the small lots can’t realistically be developed as they are and could benefit from re-platting and other things a TIRZ could help pay for, if the owners or a developer could buy the lots and combine them,” Palmer went on to say.
HUBA favors adding this corridor to the plan. As more of the automotive businesses close that the council recently made legal non-conforming, it’s not clear how the TIRZ will backfill those properties, Palmer noted, seeming to appeal to Mr. Petty.
“Also, the city needs to help us understand how the TIRZ is going to convince realtorsto resume showing properties in the city. Right now, they will not show vacant space in Haltom City because it is too hard to get clients into the spaces,” noted Palmer.
Currently, Haltom City Council and Haltom City’s use matrix require even the simplest of businesses, like dry cleaners, to have public hearings in order to be considered to be allowed open. HUBA does not believe a TIRZ will help with that issue. The pro-business advocacy group has submitted proposed changes to the use matrix that would allow more businesses to open without public hearings, noted local businessman and HUBA Member Ron Sturgeon.
“The current Haltom City Council has shown a propensity to micromanage applicants’ business plans and try to modify or restrict them. On my recent application for an events center, they issued a huge set of rules concerning the food trucks to serve the facility, including how many sinks the trucks had to have,” said the longtime Haltom City business owner.
“I said then, and I still say, not one person in our city was asking council to protect them from event centers or food trucks in commercial zones. There wasn’t a single person to speak against them during the hearing.”
Ron Sturgeon, a HUBA founding member who started his first business in Haltom City almost 50 years ago, states, “We saw a similar plan with beautiful pictures for Belknap over ten years ago, but as we all know it never happened. The reality, I believe, is that we can’t make Belknap and these other corridors look like Colleyville, or even Magnolia Street in Ft Worth. But I do think we can bring more business, get empty buildings occupied. That increased activity will then bring larger businesses to the corridors for redevelopment, but all of this requires council to be more business friendly.”
“Many want to put the cart before the horse, and think we should try to get big businesses, including a grocery store, to the area, and that will lift the areas and bring redevelopment. But I don’t believe those key players are going to want to come to run down corridors with decrepit buildings, hoping to lift the traffic and demographics. That is neither their goal nor their function. I am also not convinced that the residents in many of these areas want all the development, they prefer small businesses that will serve their needs,” said Sturgeon.
Mr. Petty stated that the revenues from the TIRZ will begin flowing from increased property values in 2023. It takes at least a year for new tax assessments to occur from improvements and then the taxes must be collected. It’s easy to see that the real money won’t start until early 2024. Although long term, it’s a good plan, said Sturgeon. Mr. Petty states that the benefits will come over the 30-year life of the fund, which could bring as much as $1m in the first year, and conceivably a similar amount in each year going forward. Sturgeon, citing years of experience with major construction projects, said, “We never want to downplay a million dollars, but that amount won’t even build sidewalks from Beach Street to Denton highway. Also, it’s not clear how long that would take and how much the sidewalks will do to improve business or get businesses to occupy vacant buildings.”
Bob Eury, president of Central Houston and director of the Downtown Management District in that city said, “Many times, TIRZs have been created in anticipation of development, but it needs to be done in conjunction with redevelopment plans for it to really work.” Eury continues, “For areas in need of redevelopment that don’t yet have a TIRZ or a management district — which is a separate entity that takes fees, or assessments, from commercial property in the area — it can be a hard sell to business owners to buy in.” HUBA concurs, but has not seen such a redevelopment plan, and doesn’t see the TIRZ by itself as a cure-all.
Bobby Warren, Mayor of Jersey City Tx says Although the TIRZ does capture the increased property tax revenues from the new investments made in the zone, the TIRZ does not receive any of the sales tax generated by businesses in that area.” Palmer says it is easy to see that if the TIRZ funded a large amount of infrastructure for one large project in Haltom City, the money to provide other city services without the general fund support for them could be strained, but perhaps by spreading the TIRZ benefits around that won’t be a risk.
HUBA wholeheartedly supports and endorses the TIRZ and believes that as one tool in the toolbox it should be put in place as soon as possible. HUBA does not believe it will help bring small businesses, or get vacant buildings occupied. “The city will need a different plan for that,” Palmer stated.
The city will host a proposed public hearing on the TIRZ November 8th. HUBA hopes the proponents of the TIRZ will address the questions raised by its members, move to create a multi-faceted plan to spur development in both North and South Haltom City, and add NE 28th Street to the TIRZ.
About Haltom United Business Alliance
Haltom United Business Alliance (HUBA) wants to make sure Haltom City is business friendly and to nurture small business growth, including automotive businesses. HUBA would also like to see more restaurants including breweries and a major grocery store come to Haltom City. HUBA is focused on strengthening the business tax base in Haltom City so that Haltom residents do not face tax increases. HUBA is also focused on reducing regulations and red tape that slow new business formation in Haltom City or impede the growth of Haltom City’s existing small businesses. HUBA supports having at least two members of Haltom City Council who have owned small businesses and would like to see greater representation for members of Haltom City’s Hispanic community on City Council. Although HUBA does not endorse candidates, HUBA believes that voters benefit from having a variety of qualified candidates to choose from. If you are interested in running for Haltom City Council and would like to discuss your vision for Haltom City, please contact Joe Palmer. Anyone who owns a business in Haltom City is eligible to join HUBA. Dues are $20 annually or $50 for a lifetime membership, and membership is 100% confidential. To join, contact Joe at (682) 310-0591 or by email at [email protected]. Visit the group’s Facebook at Haltom United Business Alliance.
About Haltom City
Haltom City is a medium-sized city between Dallas and Fort Worth in Tarrant County, TX. The city is diverse and majority working class, with a growing population that is approximately 10% Asian-American and 45% Hispanic. Haltom City benefits from being only minutes from both DFW Airport and Downtown Fort Worth, with direct access to major highways including I-820 and SH-121. Small businesses that have historically provided products, services, and jobs to residents and are a vital part of the city’s economy. Haltom City has an opportunity for continued growth through undeveloped land and many vacant buildings, especially in major corridors close to the city’s center. The city has good staff and a city manager who is interested in seeing more businesses, but they can only do as directed by the council.
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