The Denison City Council recently received its first progress report on a new program aimed at incentivizing reinvestment and renovation in the city’s aging housing stock. During the first 10 months of the program, the city saw 38 projects take advantage of the financial incentive packages, officials said in June.
The update came as part of the city’s annual budget retreat where city staff present proposals for new projects, expenses or capital investments for the upcoming fiscal year. At the retreat, city staff recommended continuing with the reinvestment program.
“You have plenty of funds right now to continue the program into the next year,” Kimberly Murray, community and development services director, said during the meeting. “So, what we’d like to do is keep rolling and doing with the program and then re-evaluate next year how it’s going, and if we want to do any amendments.”
The program offers a number of incentives for homeowners and developers who invest in remodeling projects valued at $40,000 or more. The incentives include a one-time rebate of 10 times the increased assessed city taxes created as a result of the renovations. Other incentives include city-funded sidewalk improvements for projects, and the use of city roll-off dumpsters for qualified projects.
The program was approved and put in place by the city council in September 2017 as the latest step in a series of initiatives aimed at improving the city’s housing stock. While previous attempts, including the city’s affordable housing program, were focused on creating new housing options, the renovation program was one of the first efforts aimed at existing homes.
“We have a lot of homes that, with substantial development, could be excellent,” former Development Services Director Gabe Reaume said in September. “We have existing housing stock that if nothing is done could easily become demolitions within the next five to 10 years.”
The first 10 months of the program saw 38 projects apply for incentives. This is more than the number of applications for renovation building project over $40,000 received by the city in the past three years combined.
Through the program, Murray said more than $2.2 million has been invested in Denison properties, with two thirds of the projects coming in at under $50,000. The majority of these renovation projects have been for bathroom and kitchen work, Murray said.
“They are understanding what the minimum requirements are and they are submitting applications that meet that threshold,” she said.
While the majority have been under $50,000, Murray said not all have been on the lower side of the scale. The largest project, by comparison, involved more than $235,000 in investment in a home in the 1100 block of Bond Street, officials said.