The Denison City Council turned its attention to the city’s existing housing stock Monday when it approved a new incentive program to encourage the restoration and renovation of homes. Monday’s action follows programs in recent years aimed at supporting the other aspects of single-family home growth within the city.

Under the program, the city will offer incentives including cash rebates for remodel projects valued at $40,000 or higher. Development Services Director Gabe Reaume said the city’s intent with this project is to encourage higher end restorations that potentially could save some homes.

“We have a lot of homes that with substantial development could be excellent,” Reaume said before Monday’s meeting. “We have some existing housing stock that if nothing is done could easily become demolitions within the next five to ten years.”

Reaume said the program was developed by recommendation of the city’s housing task force, which was formed two years ago, and was included as a goal of its recent housing master plan. The master plan said the median age of the houses within the city dates back to the mid-1960s, as of 2015.

The program was modeled after similar programs offered by other cities, including Richardson and Plano, and bears some similarities to prior programs that incentivized the development of single-family homes and affordable housing.

In previous years, about 20 renovation permits per years would have qualified for these incentives, Reaume said. By offering these perks, Reaume said he was hoping to encourage outside development and individual homeowners to consider major improvements.

“If you ever watch the show Fixer Upper on HGTV, we really want to entice the Chip and Joanna Gaines’ of the world to come to Denison and do a ‘Fixer Upper’ here,” Reaume said.

For improvement project valued at $40,000 or more, the city will waive building permits and offer the use of two roll-off dumpsters free of charge. The city will also rebate the sales tax for building materials for the project that are purchased within the city.

The two biggest incentives, however, come in the form of city-funded sidewalk improvement and repairs and a property tax rebate. In areas where the sidewalk is in need or repair or maintenance, Reaume said the city will make these improvements for qualified projects.

In addition to these other incentives, the city will also offer a cash rebate of 10 times the amount of the increased city property taxes assessed and paid as a result of the value created by the project. This rebate would be offered the year following the completion of the improvements.

As an example of this Reaume said if property taxes for a property increased $300 above the 2017 city totals as a result of approved improvements, the city would offer an incentive of $3,000.

Reaume said some improvement to a home would not qualify for the program. Examples of these improvements include pools, irrigation systems, accessory buildings, garage enclosures and carports, among others.

When asked by the council if there would be a cap for this program, Reaume said city staff has identified $250,000 of funding that could be available over a two-year period.

Gavin Mandt of Apex Construction said he does considerable business doing restoration projects in the Texoma region. In recent years, Mandt said these projects alone can make up about $700,000 of his business each year.

“I think renovations are going great in the area and the business is booming,” he said.

Mandt said many of the homes he has renovated date back to the 1960s and 1970s, but he has done work on some from the 1990s as well. Many times these are individually owned homes, often where the resident has just purchased the property and wants to update.

Mandt said the majority of the homes he works on fall between $100,000 and $150,000 initially, with values reaching nearly $250,000 following renovation.