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Midtown TIRZ


Joke

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So by my estimates, Midtown pulls in about $3.5mil - $4mil annually* in taxes. Does anyone know where that money goes? I know there's been some utility improvement near me on Baldwin, which is appreciated.

One thing I'd be interested in (in the wake of Ike) is to bury the power lines in Midtown. Power was out at my house until this afternoon, which sucked. Hiding the lines would also (in my opinion) beautify the area.

I don't have a clue as to how much such a thing would cost. Anyone have any idea? Would we be able to get Centerpoint to pick up some of the bill (might save them costs on future repairs, but I suppose it might cost them more because exposed lines are easier to get at)? And might it make our power lines susceptible to other weather events, such as flooding?

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* Estimated amounts:

Midtown TIRZ:

Starting point appraised value was $157mil (see http://www.houstonmidtown.com/midtown.cfm?a=cms,c,48,3 )

The 2004 assessed value was $750 mil (see item #4 in http://www.houstonmidtown.com/cmsFiles/Fil...dtown%20MD.pdf)

That means a net appraised value for the TIRZ of 750 - 157 = $593 mil.

Not sure how homestead exemptions apply for the purposes of TIRZ calcs, but since I'm just roughing out numbers I'll subtract out 20%, leaving $474 mil.

I'm pretty sure the TIRZ only receives the incremental City of Houston tax, which is currently 0.64375%.

That works out to a net incremental tax amount of $3mil, all of which would go the the Midtown Redevlopment Authority.

Midtown Management District:

2004 appraised value was $750 mil

After homestead exemption of 20%, I'll say there's a taxable value of $600 mil (yeah, that's low, because plenty of property doesn't get the exemption, but it's close enough).

Midtown Management district assessed its own tax of 0.1181% last year.

That works out to taxes collected of $0.7 mil for the Midtown Management District

This is all probably low, since I'm using 2004 tax base numbers. Also, it could be WAY low if the TIRZ gets more than just City of Houston taxes (e.g. Harris County, HISD, etc).

If anyone knows where to get ACTUAL tax revenue numbers, even old ones, that would be appreciated.

Edited by Joke
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I think HBJ puts out these figures in their Book of Lists. You'll have to pay for it though, and I no longer have access to my old one.

From the Peirce Elevated to US 59, the 16 north/south streets seem to average right at about a mile in length. And from US 59 to Spur 527 (or Bagby/Brazos), the 26 east/west streets seem to average nearly 3/4 of a mile in length. I know that the TIRZ/Management District is a little larger, but I want to keep it simple. This amounts to 35.5 miles of streets. The grid isn't perfectly complete, so lets assume 10% of the streets are missing. That's 31.95 miles. Assume there is one set of power lines running the length of each existing street. At the cost of $1.8 million per mile of buried utilities, as derived from post #32 in this thread, it would cost $57.51 million to bury Midtown's overhead electrical lines.

It would cost $7.48 million per year to pay down a 10-year muni-bond at 5% interest...about twice their current budget...to only ever bury power lines in less than the totality of Midtown.

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Interesting stuff. Thanks both for the pointer to the other thread and the numbers.

Seems like it could be feasible if midtown were to kick in part of the cost with centerpoint paying the rest, based on the expectation of decreased future service costs.

At the very least, we should consider a policy of burying the damn things whenever we tear the street open for other work (alas, they just finished blacktopping over the utility work in my area).

In any event, these sorts of projects seem like what the TIRZ was created for.

Did some more web-searching and found what I was looking for [see page 3 of http://www.window.state.tx.us/taxinfo/prop...06/harrisco.pdf ]-- apparently it's not just the city of Houston but also Harris County, the flood control district, and HISD that participate in the TIRZ. That puts my revenue estimate for 2004 at more like $10mil (not $3mil). According to the source, the district pulled in $8mil in 2003 (I think that's what it's saying). There's a discrepancy between my original source and this on the base 1994 appraised amount. I'll go with this one and put my final estimate at $9mil in 2004. It's probably more like $11 mil now.

Interestingly, through 2003 the TIRZ had debt of $57 million in outstanding bonds. However, it appears the TIRZ has invested about $10 million over the last 5 years in property in the 3rd ward ( http://www.governing.com/articles/0603houston.htm ). [The article says that $10 million represents "almost all of [the TIRZ's] revenues" over the past 5 years, I'll assume they mean NET revenue after covering bond expenses.] That hardly seems like a good use of midtown funds -- I'd much rather have that going to infrastructure improvements in midtown than land speculation in another area.

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However, it appears the TIRZ has invested about $10 million over the last 5 years in property in the 3rd ward ( http://www.governing.com/articles/0603houston.htm )....That hardly seems like a good use of midtown funds -- I'd much rather have that going to infrastructure improvements in midtown than land speculation in another area.

Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I think the third ward is not part of midtown... http://www.houstonmidtown.com/cmsFiles/Fil...DevMap_1206.pdf

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Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I think the third ward is not part of midtown... http://www.houstonmidtown.com/cmsFiles/Fil...DevMap_1206.pdf

Here is a link to a much earlier thread regarding the hijacking of money from the Midtown TIRZ by Garnet Coleman for the purchase of Third Ward Property. This has gone largely unnoticed.

http://www.houstonarchitecture.info/haif/i...=garnet+coleman

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Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I think the third ward is not part of midtown... http://www.houstonmidtown.com/cmsFiles/Fil...DevMap_1206.pdf

Technically, the part of Midtown east of Main Street is indeed 3rd Ward. A lot of older folks in 3rd Ward are resentful of the rebranding of part of their neighborhood.

Nevertheless, you are correct to point out the Midtown Management District and TIRZ should be using resources to improve areas within its own boundaries. And that they have been buying up land in (the popular conception of what is) 3rd Ward really isn't a well-kept secret.

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Technically, the part of Midtown east of Main Street is indeed 3rd Ward. A lot of older folks in 3rd Ward are resentful of the rebranding of part of their neighborhood.

Nevertheless, you are correct to point out the Midtown Management District and TIRZ should be using resources to improve areas within its own boundaries. And that they have been buying up land in (the popular conception of what is) 3rd Ward really isn't a well-kept secret.

Thanks for the info. Are there any resources online that show what land is currently owned by the MMD and TIRZ?

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Thanks for the info. Are there any resources online that show what land is currently owned by the MMD and TIRZ?

A commenter in the thread linked by travelguy mentioned you can see a listing on HCAD.org of properties held by the "Midtown Redevelopment Authority". I searched on that name (and similar) and came up with 143 entries.

I mapped them here: http://mapalist.com/Public/PublicMapViewer...spx?mapid=22138

(well, 115 of them -- for the other 28, the addresses were missing or looked wrong).

This does make it clear that the land purchases made by the Midtown TIRZ are in the part of the 3rd ward that's east of 59, which is outside the boundaries of Midtown.

Edited by Joke
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One thing I'd be interested in (in the wake of Ike) is to bury the power lines in Midtown. Power was out at my house until this afternoon, which sucked. Hiding the lines would also (in my opinion) beautify the area.

Yes! I would gladly pay more just to bury the utility lines and eliminate power outages due to downed trees, etc. It seems like burying the lines would pay for itself when you consider the manpower and materials needed to fix the outages, combined with all the downtime and lost productivity from businesses and residents experiencing extended power outages. The beautification aspect is another bonus.

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Yes! I would gladly pay more just to bury the utility lines and eliminate power outages due to downed trees, etc. It seems like burying the lines would pay for itself when you consider the manpower and materials needed to fix the outages, combined with all the downtime and lost productivity from businesses and residents experiencing extended power outages. The beautification aspect is another bonus.

Sounds too much like the tired argument that got trotted out after Rita, where economic development folks in suburban counties started calling for a lot of new toll roads...to help in evacuations, of course. ;)

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And if the humongous investment designed for emergency relief should just happen to also have an everyday benefit, well... :rolleyes:

Are you also against airbags just because they only get used in an emergency? They're costly but I think we can justify them.

As for burying power lines, I think it's smarter to invest in something that solves the problem long term, rather than fix the same power lines over and over with thousands of short term repairs that over time cost even more money than the long-term solution. Add to that the cost of downtime to businesses and personal lives, and I think it's something worth considering.

And it's not like this suggestion is extravagant or unusual; many communities as well as parts of Houston bury power lines already.

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Are you also against airbags just because they only get used in an emergency? They're costly but I think we can justify them.

Of course not. ...but then they don't really fit my analogy anyway.

Besides which, I didn't say that yours was an invalid argument, only a tired one. It is vastly inconclusive.

As for burying power lines, I think it's smarter to invest in something that solves the problem long term, rather than fix the same power lines over and over with thousands of short term repairs that over time cost even more money than the long-term solution. Add to that the cost of downtime to businesses and personal lives, and I think it's something worth considering.

Show me the numbers. Demonstrate to me that your idea passes the sniff test.

And it's not like this suggestion is extravagant or unusual; many communities as well as parts of Houston bury power lines already.

Not ex post facto, they don't.

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Yes! I would gladly pay more just to bury the utility lines and eliminate power outages due to downed trees, etc. It seems like burying the lines would pay for itself when you consider the manpower and materials needed to fix the outages, combined with all the downtime and lost productivity from businesses and residents experiencing extended power outages. The beautification aspect is another bonus.

Unless of course, that outages due to downed trees, etc. do not occur very often. It is likely that the last time Midtown had a power outage due to downed trees, etc. was 1983. Further, given that Centerpoint's estimate of damages from Ike are up to $500 million to restore power to 2.1 million customers, for an average of $220 per customer, it is likely that Midtown's 10,000 or fewer customers only cost $2.5 million or so to repair. Given Niche's estimate of $57 million to bury lines, and my estimate of $2.5 million spent on repairs every 25 years, I estimate that burying the lines would pay for itself in 570 years...give or take a couple of years.

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Unless of course, that outages due to downed trees, etc. do not occur very often. It is likely that the last time Midtown had a power outage due to downed trees, etc. was 1983. Further, given that Centerpoint's estimate of damages from Ike are up to $500 million to restore power to 2.1 million customers, for an average of $220 per customer, it is likely that Midtown's 10,000 or fewer customers only cost $2.5 million or so to repair. Given Niche's estimate of $57 million to bury lines, and my estimate of $2.5 million spent on repairs every 25 years, I estimate that burying the lines would pay for itself in 570 years...give or take a couple of years.

I agree with you that it's unlikely that burying power lines will pay for itself. However, I wouldn't count Centerpoint's estimates of anything as worth the paper they're crapped on: "Last week CenterPoint issued a map and timetable projecting that 80 percent of power in 69 ZIP codes would be restored by Monday night. But Tuesday morning the company's Web site showed CenterPoint hit that target in only 25 of those ZIPs" (http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/hurricane/ike/6019124.html).

Further you may consider it likely that the last time Midtown had a storm-related outage was 1983, but according to my neighbor my block in Midtown lost power during Rita (I didn't move here until Dec. of 2006, so I just have her word).

Lastly, don't forget that there are significant costs to the residents during a week-plus power outage in terms of disrupting their lives; hard to put a dollar number on certainly, but no less real.

The point of my original post is that Midtown _appears_ to have significant capital to spend, given the tax income. As a resident, I think it's worth considering putting some of that toward burying lines so as to protect us from future problems AND for beautification (I think it's beautifying, at least). It may not be worthwhile to rip out the existing lines apropos of nothing, but I'd certainly like it to be considered whenever the streets are torn open for other utility work (as, unfortunately, has been the case in my neighborhood for the last 8 months).

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Hurricane Ike downed four trees on my block alone. There is also a snapped utility pole hanging over the street near Hadley and Chenevert, along with loose power lines that have been temporary held off the street using police emergency tape. I've noticed utility lines dangling in several locations near my house (I'm assuming they're inactive but I don't go near them just in case).

I'm not sure if these examples are representative of Midtown as a whole, but consider that there has been much new development over the last 10 years, much of it including trees planted directly beneath or next to power lines. What will happen during a storm in another 10-20 years when those trees are mature?

I also don't know about the financial cost of burying the lines, but my point is just that I would support it if it was an option. And like Joke pointed out, there are costs associated with power outages aside from the repair costs that may be hard to measure (for example, lost food, generators and fuel, trips out of town to stay with relatives who have power, closed businesses, time without pay since employer is closed, lost conventions and business trips to Houston due to the outage, etc.). Again, just something to think about.

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Show me the numbers. Demonstrate to me that your idea passes the sniff test.

That's what I would like to know. I think a cost-benefit analysis would be interesting. I work with the IT industry, so I know there is an enormous cost associated with downtime for businesses.

Edited by barracuda
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This does make it clear that the land purchases made by the Midtown TIRZ are in the part of the 3rd ward that's east of 59, which is outside the boundaries of Midtown.

Thanks for the map. How are they able to use our money to improve non midtown properties? I thought the money is supposed to go to improving parks, lights, streets, etc. This seems contrary to what they say their job is... http://www.houstonmidtown.com/midtown.cfm?a=cms,c,33,0

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Am I the only one that has taken a statistics class?

The assumption that we are safe from a hurricane for 25 years is a terrible assumption.

If I flip a coin 50 times, and only get heads twice (the 25 and the 50th flip), does that mean that my next 24 flips will be tails?

I am not going off the assumption that a hurricane today means we are safe for 24 years. I AM, however, going off the assumption that if it were cheaper to bury elevated lines than to repair them, Centerpoint would ALREADY be burying them. Clearly, your statistical talents are being wasted here. You should work for Centerpoint. The fact that Centerpoint does not publish its research on the matter is not a basis for assuming that they haven't done a cost-benefit analysis, or that they have ignored results that favor your preference.

Now, if you midtowners want to pressure your TIRZ to spend their tax money on a beautification project that also may have a sideline benefit of reducing the chances of a future blackout, I am all for it. In fact, that is what those funds were legislated for, as opposed to, say, purchasing houses in the adjacent neighborhood. Good luck in that endeavor.

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Thanks for the map. How are they able to use our money to improve non midtown properties? I thought the money is supposed to go to improving parks, lights, streets, etc. This seems contrary to what they say their job is... http://www.houstonmidtown.com/midtown.cfm?a=cms,c,33,0

call garnet coleman's office. he's just trying to keep his empire afloat.

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I am not going off the assumption that a hurricane today means we are safe for 24 years. I AM, however, going off the assumption that if it were cheaper to bury elevated lines than to repair them, Centerpoint would ALREADY be burying them. Clearly, your statistical talents are being wasted here. You should work for Centerpoint. The fact that Centerpoint does not publish its research on the matter is not a basis for assuming that they haven't done a cost-benefit analysis, or that they have ignored results that favor your preference.

When did I say that burying the lines is cheaper?

Centerpoint doesnt care that business were closed for a week or more. They dont care that I lost the food in my fridge. They dont care that people had to wait in line for hours to get gas.

None of that is in their cost benefit analysis. So of course they want to keep doing it the way they are doing it now. More profit for them.

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Midtown floods, which is one reason not to bury the lines. On LaBranch, the overhead lines can't be buried because there's already a 135,000 volt line under the street - it feeds the substation at Tuam and LaBranch. Burying lines works fine for new development, but not for older neighborhoods.

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Midtown floods, which is one reason not to bury the lines. On LaBranch, the overhead lines can't be buried because there's already a 135,000 volt line under the street - it feeds the substation at Tuam and LaBranch. Burying lines works fine for new development, but not for older neighborhoods.

All of your "issues" are easily fixed.

Nobody has explained to me why flooding means you cannot bury the lines? Elevate the transformers a foot or so off the ground, maybe 2 feet in flood prone areas and your golden. Put a bush around that thing, and you will never know its there.

You cant put two lines underneath a street? Are you implying that electric lines cannot cross each other in the ground?

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Thanks for the map. How are they able to use our money to improve non midtown properties? I thought the money is supposed to go to improving parks, lights, streets, etc. This seems contrary to what they say their job is... http://www.houstonmidtown.com/midtown.cfm?a=cms,c,33,0

I'm at the limit of my knowledge on how a TIRZ is required to act, although I did read this from another poster in the thread at http://www.houstonarchitecture.info/haif/i...=garnet+coleman :

A TIRZ is required to set-aside 10% of their "revenue" for low-income housing. It also allows for using those 10% funds in an adjacent area to the TIRZ as long as it is in the same county. So legally, the board is able to do what they are doing in third ward...

I don't know either way if that poster is correct.

I would guess that the TIRZ is actually using more than 10% of its revenue on purchases in the 3rd ward - my estimates of TIRZ revenue gets to about $11 million/year in 2006; the article on Garnet Coleman claimed that the Midtown TIRZ spent about $10 million over the 5 years ending in 2006 on the 3rd-ward purchases.

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  • 4 months later...
  • 5 years later...

I'm unclear on the details but I found out today that the Midtown TIRZ wants to annex Montrose. . . . . . what? Where would the $ go that is generated by that type of annexation?

There is a cpuncil meeting Tuesday where citizens can give opinions and I think a couple of City Councilmen are planning a townhall meeting later  concerning this-

 

This is so strange, I have been going through some old documents of Avondale from the 90's--There was an attempt to gain TIRZ for the area  then-- it was denied.

 

sorry the picture is upside down and I don't know how to change it-

post-6399-0-08410700-1417846419_thumb.jp

Edited by trymahjong
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If I was a Montrose resident I'd be excited... If I still lived in Midtown I probably wouldn't be as excited. TIRZ's are pretty awesome in that you basically get more of your tax dollars spent in your neighborhood. Yeah, you pay a little more but you get Bagby street reconstruction type quality vs mediocre street overlays.

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If I was a Montrose resident I'd be excited... If I still lived in Midtown I probably wouldn't be as excited. TIRZ's are pretty awesome in that you basically get more of your tax dollars spent in your neighborhood. Yeah, you pay a little more but you get Bagby street reconstruction type quality vs mediocre street overlays.

 

You don't pay more with a TIRZ, they just assign the incremental taxes  from value increases to a specific area. Management districts, on the other hand do charge actual taxes. The Midtown Management District has a 11.81 cent tax rate.

 

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The problem is what the heck has the Montrose TIRZ been doing with all the tax money it's been receiving from the "boom" over the last 14 or so years in the area. Lower Westheimer is an embarrassment of a major thoroughfare in that condition along with many of the neighborhood streets in Montrose. The infrastructure is terrible, while Kirby and Midtown keep upgrading and rebuilding their sidewalks and streets. 

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You don't pay more with a TIRZ, they just assign the incremental taxes from value increases to a specific area. Management districts, on the other hand do charge actual taxes. The Midtown Management District has a 11.81 cent tax rate.

You're correct and thanks for pointing that out. I'm used to lumping both in my mind from when I owned property in Midtown.
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So there is a Management District in Montrose (MMD covers Kirby to Dallas to Bagby to I59 plus a small bit of museum district I59, Montrose to Binz to Graustark--I think)--- they knew nothing of the annexation before hand-- neither did Neartown (umbrella organization of the 22 civic organizations of Montrose) neither did the council people who live inside Montrose----Guess it just seems strange so many organizations were caught unaware of this-

 

I'm still wondering where does the money generated from a Montrose TIRZ go to? who/where gets the benefit?

 

City council is having open discussion about this topic this week- Last week (Dec 2 there was a public Hearing)

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from Cohen enewsletter

Dear Friend,

Recently, a proposal has come before Council to expand Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ) #2 to include portions of District C's Montrose and Museum District neighborhoods (map). In contrast to a management district, a TIRZ does not involve new taxes for businesses. Rather, a TIRZ changes how property taxes from commercial properties are allocated by using them for projects within the TIRZ boundaries.

To ensure that the affected community has an opportunity to learn more about this proposal and how it will impact their neighborhoods, Council Members David Robinson, Dwight Boykins, and I will host a public meeting next week:

Public Meeting: Proposed Expansion of TIRZ #2
Monday, December 15th, 2014
6:30PM – 7:30PM
University of St. Thomas: Scanlan Hall in the Jerabeck Activity Center
4000 Mt. Vernon St, 77006
(Please note that this building is located on a pedestrian-only path within the university complex. Signage will be posted.)

The parking garage at the Moran Center (3807 Graustark St, 77006) will be available for participants. I encourage you to send questions in advance by contacting my office at DistrictC@houstontx.gov or (832) 393-3004.

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TIRZ #2 Expansion Proposal Delayed

Council Member Cohen plans to postpone the council vote on a proposal to expand Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ) #2. Discussion on this issue is expected to continue over the next few months to ensure that all stakeholders are involved in the decision-making process. Council Members Cohen, David Robinson, and Dwight Boykins will host a public meeting on Monday evening to provide more information about the proposal and its potential impact on affected neighborhoods.

Public Meeting: Proposed Expansion of TIRZ #2
Monday, December 15th
6:30PM – 7:30PM
University of St. Thomas: Scanlan Hall in the Jerabeck Activity Center
4000 Mt. Vernon St, 77006
(MAP)
The Center is located on a pedestrian-only path within the university complex. Signage will be posted. Parking available at Moran Center parking garage, 3807 Graustark St.

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I attended the Town Hall meeting about this. There were maybe 250 +- Ellen Cohen hosted-

David Robinson was there- Dwight Boykins was suppose to be there but didn't show- Michael Kubosh wasn't expected and showed up--- I looked for Stephan Costello ( I think he lives in Montrose) but didn't see him.

Andy Aicken - COH development guy- Baron Wallace-Midtown TIRZ lawyer represented the Pro Midtown TIRZ annexation of Montrose movement.

Those guys were on the hot seat most of the time--Apparently when the idea was presented to COH

Their spokesperson related that the MMD, MDBA, Neartown and ALL the museums anywhere in Montrose were all 100% for the proposal. ( the TIRZ guys related that it was the idea of "uniting" all the Mueums in Montrose that was the catalyst for the annexation. But really the Buffalo Soldier Musuem wasn't included neither was HMNS -only the Menil is on Board and that might have something to do with the Menil trying to form an independant parking district)

That wasn't true- none of them were aware of it--Nor were any COH council. Sigh-a lot of time spent trying to shame the TIRZ over that misstep.

There was a Q&A and none of the questioners were for the proposal. Most wanted to know why Montrose couldn't be its own TIRZ since the Parker administration had created 2 new TIRZ. Also came out that only the streets of Westheimer, Alabama, Richmond and Montrose could be annexed because areas have to be "Blighted " and have less than 25% residential housing. Hmmmmmm

Cohen stated nothing would pass in 2014 and 2015 was " wait and see" that means more Town Hall meetings.

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The Buffalo Solider museum is already in Midtown. Also, they are right about an area needing to be blighted to be in a TIRZ. HMNS would probably be too far south to include. As I said earlier, I'd be jumping for joy if I were in Montrose. You'd probably get nice thoroughfares eventually for no extra cost to you. It would probably bring more development as well.

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The Buffalo Solider museum is already in Midtown. Also, they are right about an area needing to be blighted to be in a TIRZ. HMNS would probably be too far south to include. As I said earlier, I'd be jumping for joy if I were in Montrose. You'd probably get nice thoroughfares eventually for no extra cost to you. It would probably bring more development as well.

 

 

I'll have to look at that silly upside down map again but i thought the Buffalo soldier museum wasn't included. And Sue Lovell who represents  (all or at least a lot of) Museum in that  alliance group  certainly was upset that the presumption from the Midtown TIRZ was that all the Museums were for this proposal.The TIRZ is suppose to have a different boundary because of the 25% housing (can't have anymore than that) requirement.

 

TIRZ I really don't have a problem with but it tells me something that their head guys didn't do any bridge building to anyone in MOntrose before hand. If there's one thing Montrose does it's hold stakeholder events to discuss Montrose problems and how those  might be solved.DAvid Robinson  has been at the head of at least a half dozen such events-- I'm sure he was shocked that no one asked his opinion.

 

A lot of info on other TIRZ came up also-- The one for the Galleria-- apparently none of the stakeholders want the dedicated bus lane. Plus although TIRZ meetings are open to the public and you can ask questions-- TIRZ cannot answer those questions and a woman told of having to use the freedom of information act to get access to information that concerned her question.

 

 

These Midtown guys talking gave me a creepy feeling the same as a smarmy used car salesman, when you hope to get a better car, I'm afraid there is already a plan in place to have a terrific outcome-- I'm just not sure Montrose will see any of the benefits.

Edited by trymahjong
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  • The title was changed to Midtown TIRZ

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