Potter County Commissioners unanimously approve incentives for North Heights – Amarillo Globe-News

The Potter County Commissioners Court gave unanimous approval on Monday to a request from the Commons at St. Anthony’s Project for a 10-year property tax abatement and $250,000 in American Rescue Plan funding for a proposed affordable senior living facility.

At a previous meeting, the court had agreed to get more input from the community and a better understanding of the project. Former North Heights Advisory Association President Mildred Darden questioned the timing of funding the project at this time. She stressed that there were other ways that ARP funds could be used in the North Heights community.

Located at Amarillo Boulevard and Polk Street, the plan proposes a 124-unit, affordable-housing complex for low-income seniors in an area that is underserved.

Andrew Freedman, assistant city manager, gave an overview of the meeting that he, Mayor Ginger Nelson, Mayor Pro Tem Freda Powell, and county commissioners Alphonso Vaughn and H.R. Kelly attended to discuss the originally requested $300,000 in ARP funds and potential property tax rebate.

Joseph Peterson, chairman of the NHAA, spoke about the goals for the organization. Increasing homeownership, reducing dilapidated structures and beautification of the North Heights area are among the group’s priorities, he said.

Peterson said that the street toppers throughout the neighborhood were one of the first aspects of the plan to be completed. He stressed that his group’s goal is not just confined to the St. Anthony property.

For beautification of the area, he described a plan to improve sidewalks, including creative sidewalks that would be designed to be more eye appealing than the basic layout. Peterson spoke about vacant lot improvements to make the area more appealing to homeowners.

He said that the most significant piece of the group plan to revitalize the neighborhood was a housing initiative to help existing homeowners improve their properties and help prospective homeowners get assistance with financing and down payments. When asked about potential sponsorship for projects like sidewalk improvements, Peterson said that the NHAA was looking into such opportunities.

Commissioner Vaughn said that the plan would benefit the community, adding that new homeownership and revitalizing current homes would, in turn, raise property values in the area.

Former Texas Tech Chancellor and U.S. Rep. Kent Hance spoke on behalf of the NHAA to help secure funding for its projects. He spoke about the overall impact of the $2 million in incentives to North Heights and the completion of the St. Anthony’s project.

“For 30 years, St. Anthony’s has brought in no tax revenue sitting there. It is not like money is being given up as is,” Hance said. “When you see the project at its completion, you will not see anything nicer of its type in Amarillo. This is the bare minimum we can get by on to start the project. This project will be a showcase for the community.”

Hance said without this funding, there is no way to get this project done. He said the pandemic had a significant impact on trying to get the project started.

Ultimately, the commissioners voted to approve $250,000 in ARP funding plus 10 years of county property tax abatement for the project.

“This is definitely a step forward; it is a win-win for the city and the county,” Powell said. “But more importantly for the North Heights and Amarillo citizens, it is a win.”