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Historic Buildings See Life Again with Development Incentives 

Over the past couple of years, the Brownwood Municipal Development District (BMDD) has been making a series of strategic efforts to revitalize our downtown area. Downtown is full of charming historic buildings that have sat vacant for years. Thanks to new business incentives, entrepreneurs are increasingly bringing their dreams and visions to life in these [slightly dusty] gems. 

Brownwood has several historic buildings that have sat empty due to prohibitive costs of bringing the buildings up to code during renovations. Back in February, the City of Brownwood Development Services Director, Tim Murray, proposed an ordinance to reclassify 96 downtown Brownwood blocks as a “historic district.” 

The ordinance, which passed successfully, mitigates high renovation costs for business owners looking to move downtown and puts these vacant buildings back into action. Often builders are confined to using expensive materials to match the original bones as well as responsible for complex installations like sprinkler systems and electrical wiring. 

 

The ordinance provides some flexibility by: 

  • Eliminating the requirement that buildings be renovated in original state and materials 

  • Allowing property owners to apply for state and federal grant incentive programs

  • Reducing energy code requirements 

  • Providing additional relief of fire codes 

 

The BMDD has already seen a positive impact of the ordinance change with several businesses opting to restore downtown properties.

 

Wet, Dry and Damp Ordinances Streamline to Wet Rules 

Thanks to a November county election that established one set of “wet” rules for businesses across the county. The change comes after nearly a century of mix-and-match ordinances that forced restaurant owners to operate on unequal ground when it came to the sale of alcohol. Now the playing field is leveled for hospitality businesses across Brown County!

“Since Prohibition, Texas allows elections to be held either countywide, in a justice of the peace precinct or in municipal city limits. There are now 10 different versions of legal sales. Since 1941, there have been at least 12 alcohol elections in Brown County, and since 1959, seven of the eight elections passed, legalizing five different versions of alcohol sales. Most elections were held in the cities, creating one set of rules for businesses inside the city limits and a different set of rules for businesses in the county.” - Brown County Committee for Better Business

BMDD is excited to welcome tourism-friendly, family-owned projects like Teddy’s Brewhaus (our first microbrewery), Pioneer Tap House (a craft beer project), event spaces and a cigar lounge to downtown Brownwood since implementation. 

 

Building Improvement for Funding 

In addition to the policy changes outlined above that advance business development in Brownwood, we see an increase in applications to the BMDD’s Building Improvement Incentive Program (BIIP). This program incentivizes the renovation and rehabilitation of Brownwood’s commercial buildings with matching grants of $20,000 for approved projects. 

 

Examples of recent projects include: 

  • Roof replacement (Glamour Shop); 

  • Roof, brick mortar repair, replacement of rotten wood, exterior painting, window sealing, door repair (Pure Prints) 

  • Complete re-facade of the outer wall, interior improvements, roof repair (Taylor Clinic) 

  • Exterior and interior structural improvements (Pioneer Tap House) 

  • Exterior and interior structural improvements (The Vault)  


Together with the relaxation in historic building renovation requirements, BIIP assistance is leveraging Brownwood’s resources in favor of entrepreneurs. Additionally, tax abatements, low-interest loans, capital improvements for infrastructure, and streamlined permitting are all incentives offered by the BMDD. Another incentive worth noting is Brownwood’s classification inside of an opportunity zone. This designation makes Brownwood an attractive community for investors with excess capital looking to reduce capital-gains tax burdens through long-term economic development projects. For a full list of incentives, click here

 

 

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