Policy 1.1.1: City policies and programs should encourage the rehabilitation of upper stories of existing downtown building as office, retail, entertainment, and residential space. Financial incentives should be considered to encourage investment from the private sector.
Downtown Redevelopment Incentivized through Neighborhood Empowerment Zone (NEZ) Program The Neighborhood Empowerment Zone Program provides that based on qualifying criteria, building permit fee waivers and municipal property tax abatements ranging from 5 to 10 years be granted to homeowners, investor-owners and developers proposing new construction or rehabilitation projects that are located within Council Districts 1, 2, 3, 4 & 8 inclusive of Downtown.
Chapter 380 Economic Incentive: Chapter 380 of the Texas Local Government Code authorizes Texas Municipalities to provide assistance for economic development in the form of loans, grants, personnel, and services. This has proven to be an excellent tool in attracting development to our area. One prime example is the construction of the Outlet Shoppes which opened its doors in Spring 2017 and represented a private investment of over $100 million.
"IT" Street Program: The “It” Street Economic Development Incentive Program provides for the reimbursement (over a 5- year period) of the Sales Tax (1%) with a cap equal to the start-up investment in addition to the waiver of building permit fees for rehabilitation of existing buildings, specifically bars and restaurants opening up shop and located within the downtown ‘Arts and Entertainment District along Iturbide “IT Street from Sta. Ursula Avenue to Juarez Avenue.
Policy 1.1.3: Large new downtown complexes such as a downtown mall, convention center, museums, or recreational facilities should fit urbanistically within the downtown. As large new uses are added, updated, or replaced, they should be integrated into Laredo’s original street network and other land uses rather than being isolated in large complexes of civic buildings.
Outlet Shoppes: The Outlet Shoppes opened its doors in March 2017 and represented a private investment of over $100,000 that was constructed within the similar footprint of the previously abandoned River Drive Mall.
Relocation of City Service Offices: Plans are underway to relocate the City’s Visitor and Conventions Bureau Office from its current location at 501 San Agustin to El Portal located at 1600 Water. Council has further authorized the creation of a Police Substation at the San Agustin location due to the increasing nightlife traffic in the area.
Policy 1.1.4: Downtown redevelopment strategies will include new and improved civic buildings and civic spaces, plus shared parking for residents, employees, and visitors.
Most recently, the City has constructed a new parking facility at Convent and Matamoros. Parking at this facility and other City downtown parking lots located at Juarez Avenue, and Zaragoza Street are made available free to the public after 6:30 p.m. each day and on weekends.
Policy 1.2.4: The city shall coordinate its land development regulations and zoning regulations to create a unified development ordinance to make development more predictable and easier to navigate the development process.
The update of the Land Development Code to codify the vision and goal identified by the Comprehensive Plan is underway.
Policy 1.2.5: The city shall explore the use of tax increment financing (TIF) to improve targeted areas such as the downtown and inner city neighborhoods. A TIF district essentially reallocates funds from property taxes to encourage investment within the district. Any increased tax revenues collected as a result of an increase in property values then go into the TIF fund and can be used by the city for a wide range of purposes within the TIF to promote redevelopment.
The Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone #1 in Downtown was created for this purpose. Ad valorem property taxes deposited into the Tax Increment Fund are used to enhance the value of all the taxable real property within the zone.
Policy 1.3.1: The city’s zoning and land development regulations should be reviewed and amended to encourage new neighborhoods to have:
- Greater interconnection of internal streets
- Provision of small parks, community gardens, and civic functions within neighborhoods
- A greater variety of housing types within each neighborhood
- Protection of natural features such as stream beds and flood zones
- Mixed-use zoning
- Form-Based Code.
- Designated subdivision for agriculture and livestock estates.
Land Development Code: The award of a professional services contract to update the Land Development Code to codify the vision and goal identified by the Comprehensive Plan was awarded to Able City, Laredo, Texas in May 2019.