New Braunfels officials are looking ahead at the state of its downtown and looking to make improvements with the proposed Business Improvement and Preservation Grant Program, which was presented to City Council on Sept. 18. If approved and implemented, funding for the grants will come from the city's downtown tax increment reinvestment zone.

Terms to know

A tax increment reinvestment zone, also known as TIRZ, is a financial tool and special type of taxing district utilized by cities and municipalities to fund projects within the bounds of the zone.

The downtown TIRZ was created in 2021 and is around 180 acres.

Once the TIRZ area has been designated, a board of directors is created to oversee the area, the funding, associated projects and other needs.

About the program

The TIRZ board was formed by the City Council last summer and began meeting early this year to look at the first influx of revenue and how to utilize those funds.

Ultimately, if approved, grant funding can be sought for the following types of projects to those who live in or own property within the TIRZ:
  • Renovation of a building's exterior
  • Public infrastructure
  • Streetscapes
  • Conversion of residential property to commercial and vice versa
Grant funding will be limited to 25% of the total cost for a given project, and applications for funding will be rolling, meaning there is no deadline for submission. The applicant will be required to give a presentation to the TIRZ board.

Jeff Jewell, the city's economic and community development director, said there is anywhere between $57,000-90,000 in the TIRZ fund, so the board is focused on smaller projects.

The goal with the grant program is to help offset the cost of these kinds of improvements while also striving for critical success factors, outlined by the city's Downtown Implementation Plan:
  • Market opportunities
  • Way finding
  • Circulation and walkability
  • Parking reform
  • Aesthetics and pedestrian infrastructure
Next steps

City Council could take action and approve the program as soon as the next regular meeting Sept. 25.