FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
RESPONSIBLE URBAN DEVELOPMENT RELEASES RESPONSE TO 380 AGREEMENT
Responsible Urban Development for Houston (RUDH), a 501c4 Volunteer organization of taxpayers and homeowners, has released a detailed critique of the proposed 380 Agreement between the City of Houston and Ainbinder.
HOUSTON, Texas – (September, 20, 2010) – In early July, Ainbinder Company announced plans to develop a retail center on Yale Street north of Washington Avenue and south of Koehler Street anchored by a 24-hour Walmart Supercenter. The city then announced that it was in negotiations with Ainbinder Company to provide a tax abatement for infrastructure improvements under a “380 Agreement”. Houston City Council is set to vote on the 380 Agreement this Wednesday.
Section 380 of the Texas Government Code allows municipalities to give tax abatements to developers outside of tax increment reinvestment zones in order to promote economic development and to stimulate business and commercial activity in the municipality. The City of Houston has claimed that the 380 Agreement was a means by which the City could address community concerns regarding the impact of a 24-Hour Walmart Supercenter.
There has been no evidence that this 380 Agreement will promote economic development. Remarkably, the developer has conceded that it does not need the 380 Agreement, and the City of Houston has stated that they proposed the 380 Agreement as a way to finance certain street improvements. A recent economic impact study commission by RUDH concluded that the proposed store will provide no sales tax revenue to the City of Houston that would justify incentives through a 380 Agreement. Nick Urbano, President of RUDH, noted that “the City is not promoting economic development when it is providing a tax abatement for a development that does not need one in order to be built.”
RUDH has also expressed concern beyond the very premise for the 380 Agreement. On Friday, the organization issued an extensive analysis of the 380 Agreement. Urbano called the agreement “incredibly one-sided” in favor of the developer. While recent statements from Houston Mayor Annise Parker claim the reimbursements would be capped at 6 million, the written proposal states that the City’s Chief Development Officer, appointed by the Mayor, can agree with the developer to go over budget without limit and without City Council approval. The 380 Agreement also gives the developer $300,000.00 for drainage improvements on the developer’s own property, and gives the developer the option to leave out community improvements that are not required for the development.
Responsible Urban Development for Houston met with city official last Wednesday to discuss additional concessions that should be added to the agreement to create more public benefits. Those suggestions and the analysis of the 380 Agreement can be found at www.stopheightswalmart.org. Additional information about the current 380 agreement can be found on the City of Houston website at www.houstontx.gov/koehler. RUDH hopes the City of Houston will make significant revisions to the 380 Agreement and will delay Wednesday’s vote in order to give the community adequate time to respond.
About Responsible Urban Development for Houston, RUDH
We are a community organization devoted to preserving the character, traditions, and appearance of the Heights and West End neighborhoods in Houston. It is our goal to represent our neighbors before local government and to educate the community about the potential impacts of real estate development on our infrastructure, environment, taxpayer-funded public services, and quality of life. We are a non-profit, grassroots organization. For more information, visit www.rudh.org.
Contact: Nick Urbano
A 380 Executive Summary is available HERE.