AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — On Tuesday, the Amarillo City Council voted unanimously to approve a resolution designating neighborhood empowerment zones in the city.
Cody Balzen, the city’s economic development specialist, said the NEZ program allows the city to help promote private investment in areas that have seen a lull in economic development and growth as compared to the rest of Amarillo.
“So this would allow us to help promote reinvestment in existing homes, new homes, new businesses, existing businesses,” Balzen said, “and it allows us a few different ways to do this, whether it’s fee waivers, municipal property tax abatements, or sales tax rebates.”
Balzen said during Tuesday’s regular meeting that the zones will include North Heights, the Barrio, San Jacinto and Eastridge neighborhoods. It will also include a downtown zone.
“It’ll be four zones associated with the neighborhood plan areas,” Balzen said. “The downtown zone is going to be strictly for residential only and then also, it’s going to be limited to fee waivers only. Because we already have incentive programs and (a) set of tools that already encompass a downtown area.”
Balzen said this is a project they have been working on for several years, but it came to the forefront in the past year.
“We’ve been working with the neighborhoods over the past year and other stakeholders like the Realtors Association, to basically see what everybody’s looking for what these areas need,” he said.
According to Balzen, the city is working with the communications team on outreach efforts.
“Then we also have some meeting set up with neighborhood associations going, to where we’ll do some public outreach at some of their public meetings,” he said. “Each zone is kind of unique in how it needs to be reached out to and they realize that, so we’re trying to work closely with them in order to get the best result.”
Balzen also said they are finalizing a website that will have applications, processes and development guidelines.