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City offers break on development charges

Zone would forgive SDCs for downtown building changes

DALLAS -- Those looking to remodel or expand buildings in downtown Dallas have faced a double hit to their wallets. First, they pay for the remodel. Then they pay the city's system development charges for the work they've done.

System development charges help pay for the city's street, sewer, water and parks systems. They can be steep, said city Community Development Director Jerry Wyatt -- a medium-sized store ran up a $15,000 bill recently.

Now, some building owners will get a break. Developments within a newly-established commercial enterprise zone will have those charges waived if they sink at least $5,000 into their building's front or exterior.

Already, two or three people have expressed interest in making improvements that would qualify, Wyatt said.

Improvements like repainting, changing awnings, adding new signage and structural changes all would count. "Five thousand dollars will get you a lot of work done," Wyatt said.

The zone stretches from Rickreall Creek south to Washington Street between Church and Shelton streets. Only commercial properties and second-story residences in commercial buildings qualify.

Dallas already has a much larger industrial enterprise zone designed to encourage manufacturing, processing and hotels to locate or expand in town.

Commercial improvements would have to mesh with the downtown theme being developed in the city's downtown master plan. City Manager Roger Jordan and the Commercial Revitalization Committee -- made up of member from the City, the Economic Development Commission and the Dallas Area Chamber of Commerce -- would need to approve any renovations.

Dropping system development charges in these cases would mean less money coming into the city, Wyatt said. But he feels the benefits outweigh the loss -- benefits like increased foot traffic, more money changing hands in town and a better-looking city.

"The value of improving the buildings in our downtown is worth it," he said.


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