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July 18, 2018


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Those old houses are still standing which says a lot.

The newer houses are cookie cutter and comes with many flaws, not well made.

The solution is for banks and local government to set up low interest loans for families that reclaim and improve the houses. The usual requirement is to live in the house for a year.

Any improvements over 100k must comply with ADA standards and newer building codes. A lot of those houses have lots of stairs up to the front porch. Wiring, underground plumbing is very old, some still have clay pipes. I admire anyone who has the patience to do that, but when the rest of the street looks like crap why bother.

Who cares ? We all should because we live here.

Not all houses will repairable but with city and bank low interest loans many of the houses can be. The city has old houses that with a little tlc would make us unique and a beautiful city. It could be a model on how to revive a city, affordable houses, pride and bring people.

Afterall, if we took time to fix El Paso, that says a lot to others.

I agree with David and especially his insightful comment about multi-generational families being a kind of "hidden" buyers market. When I ran the HFC 2003-2006, we addressed this matter by offering special incentives and loans for people to buy homes in the older neighborhoods and fix them up. In the entire three years, I think only one family chose to do this.

It was clear that, when a family could qualify for a mortgage, they wanted a new home near good schools. Keep in mind that homes are still very affordable in El Paso. If you look at cities where homes became very expensive over a period of decades, e.g., Portland, Seattle, San Francisco, there was a good deal of "urban homesteading" where these older neighborhoods gentrified, not to everyone's advantage as the low income occupants were priced out of their homes.

When I drive thru Rio Grande and Sunset Heights, I think of this scenario playing out here as the homes do have much charm, not like the cookie-cutter subdivisions out in the east side zips. But it takes a different demographic - the city's failed hope to populate DTEP with hipsters? - to do this, a subject of another post sometime if David does his research :)

Maybe Jerry K has not been downtown lately but it is full of hipster residents. It is the new place to be.

They don't have to be hipsters.

A good bargain and you get an inexpensive house. All they have to is fix the house.

House Flippers have been doing a brisk business.

Ruben; I do get downtown at least once a month and more last year. After 6PM, it's still mostly a deserted pigeon shit quarry, IMHO. The new Indigo and its lounge and the Loft might make a difference and attract a more cosmopolitan crowd. Hope so.

I don't think the trolley can be more than a Disney attraction. The homeless problem is not as bad here as elsewhere that I've been recently (thinking of Seattle).

I think your comments on multigenerational households are right on the mark. I had personally not considered this idea so I appreciate you laying it out. It has to be a huge driver of the growth of the far east side.

But where I disagree is when you talk about "80 year old, 900 sq foot boxes" being undesirable. I'm sure you've lived and traveled to other cities across the country. And in just about every major city in the US, these types of homes (oftentimes even older and even smaller) command some of the highest prices per square foot in the metro area. People are willing to live in a smaller home because it offers easy access to work and to entertainment. And many people actually prefer the character of older homes, which is absent from most newer construction.

Yes, I understand most other cities in the US have a wealthier demographic than El Paso. That has certainly hindered the redevelopment of our historic neighborhoods. But suggesting that our older homes don't meet modern standards? I don't buy it. If a 110-year old, 900 sq foot home is good enough for Portland, Austin, and Denver. It's good enough for here.

Care, my experience with such homes include lead paint, asbestos, old pipes, leaky roofs, inadequate wiring and ancient HVAC. Charm can be a pain in the butt.

Jerry - not disagreeing with you there. But homes with these problems can often be bought cheaply and flipped if they are in the right neighborhood. Historic homes in other cities come with all the problems you mention but it hasn’t stopped them from being priced at a premium. And once you fix the issues the structure is often far more solid than newer builds. Not saying they’re without issues, just that these issues can be overcome.

Unfortunately El Paso needs more gentry to support gentrification:)

But Jerry, you and other ankle biters have made a career of excoriating El Paso's "gentry," blaming them for your high taxes, claiming under the table deals and more even while they are donating money to your favorite causes such as the free health care at UMC. Gentry choose to live in places where such animosity does not exist. You are disdainful of the tiny bit of progress in downtown. You claim to wish for a better city but you are doing your part to prevent it. I thing you are doomed to a life of envy and spite.

Opt - wrong "gentry" that I mean to be the few folks who own and use CC to effect the massive transfer of public assets into private investor pockets with tax waivers and subsidies (Hunt's new building) and the outright turnover of public responsibility to private control (the new museum).

You're right; I don't like this situation. Public money and assets should be used for public spaces, IMO, not for private benefit. I do not apologize for this opinion.

Gentrification is usually (my experience) done by urban professionals, usually single or childless; the Richard Florida crowd. They take advantage of cheaper run down properties and renovate them, making them not affordable to the poorer demographic there beforehand. There is not a lot of this demographic here, though that is changing as the educational level improves over time.

This is a two-pronged issue. Gentrified neighborhoods are funky and have a vibe and run up property values. I love them. This is also one reason San Francisco, Seattle and Portland are overrun with homeless people. There are fewer and fewer slums to house these people due to gentrification.

I'm familiar with this issue having recently visited Seattle and Portland and having studied in Canada with Mark Lakeman, a homeless advocate and architect from Portland.

You know, a couple of years ago, Brutus let me publish a series of essays on what I call "alternative urbanism" that laid out some ideas for El Paso that you won't hear from the Usual Suspects and based on my experiences recently in the Northwest, Canada and the UK. There is opportunity here but it's not on the radar of official ideas that focus on vanity projects that can never pay for themselves but do float a lot of boats for the donor crowd.

Maybe it's time to republish these essays or an updated version of them. Meanwhile, CC adds $20MM to the childrens' museum because the bait-and-switch estimates of the former city CFO were aimed to sell the QoL, not a real museum.

If that doesn't get you angry, you must be Mother Teresa.

Below is from the link at bottom.

"May 24, 2018
Tax reform’s implications for government incentives
The passage of tax reform in December, which changes the taxability of economic development incentives for businesses and developers, poses new challenges for state and local government entities. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (the Act) includes significant changes to the Internal Revenue Code (IRC), some of which affect the taxability of economic development incentives for businesses and developers. Prior to the Act, IRC section 118 allowed a corporate taxpayer to exclude contributions from non-shareholders (i.e. governmental entities) from their income with tax structuring that included the use of IRC section 118. Although the strategy did not permit “tax-free” receipt of funds, it did defer the tax liability to a later time when the asset was sold and the liability could be anticipated and managed.

Under the new IRC section 118, a corporation receiving an upfront cash incentive can no longer exclude these contributions unless the government makes the contribution as a shareholder..."


Carl: what about tax rebates? they are not upfront cash, nor are they cash at all. they are "credits' and are spread out over a period of time. Are they taxable?

The link mentions tax abatements as a alt to tif. Not sure effect if any the new tax law will have on tirz 12. Sorry on android.

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