At the Dec. 14 Houston City Council meeting, council members held hearings over the expansion and creation of various tax increment reinvestment zones.

Six of the seven TIRZ actions will account for stormwater plans.

They were all passed without issue. Speakers came to discuss the expansion of the Market Square TIRZ and the creation of the Medical Center Area TIRZ.

Market Square TIRZ

The council discussed an expansion to TIRZ 3—also known as the Market Square TIRZ—primarily for stormwater retention plans. The TIRZ involves City Council districts C, H and I.

“We have no problem with the annexation as an annexation,” said Lloyd Adams, who serves on the board of directors of the Temple Terrace Property Owners' Association and spoke during the public hearing. “Our biggest concern is that it is too narrow.”

Adams cited his belief that it should be bigger to include public property. He proposed portions of the rights of way of Taft, West Lamar and Stanford streets be included in the plan.

“The TIRZ is completely amenable to adopting the land around the [Service Corporation International] development,” said the TIRZ’s Executive Director Allen Douglas, referring to a company located within the land being annexed.

Council Members Abbie Kamin and Robert Gallegos expressed support of the TIRZ, and the expansion passed without issue.

Fifth Ward TIRZ

The proposal included an addition of 116 acres to the Fifth Ward TIRZ, or TIRZ 18.

This plan will also support the public infrastructure in the area, including to the Homestead Basin.

"The hope is that this will incentivize others," Mayor Sylvester Turner said of bringing more business to the Fifth Ward and raising the tax increment in that area.

Southwest Houston TIRZ

This plan includes multiple parts involving expansion to TIRZ 20, including Alief Community Park, the Hackberry community and Boone Road Park as well as parcels of land along South Dairy Ashford Road and Beechnut Street, among other areas.

The right of way in the expansion runs along parts of Bellaire Boulevard and the Brays Bayou drainage channel as well as Bissonnet Street, Ruffino Road and along the Harris County Flood Control District flood channels. The expansion allows for bike paths and other infrastructure in an area that encompasses three City Council districts: F, K and J.

“I am ecstatic about the annexation in TIRZ 20,” District K Council Member Martha Castex-Tatum said.

Hardy/Northside TIRZ

For TIRZ 21, the annexation of 41 acres of land includes the Houston Farmers Market and would entail flood improvements by the farmers market.

Harrisburg TIRZ

A total of 17.7 acres of land as well as a clarification of boundaries was also discussed for TIRZ 23, including areas of Guadalupe Park.

Originally 315 acres were called to be annexed for this TIRZ in 2019. The boundaries were not clearly described in the 2019 ordinance, per Jennifer Curley, the Houston Economic Development Division's senior staff analyst.

The TIRZ will help with restoration and redevelopment along Buffalo Bayou, according to Gallegos.

Medical Center Area TIRZ

Lastly, the Council discussed the creation of TIRZ 28, also called the Medical Center Area TIRZ. The plan entails approximately 1,332 acres and will allow for the repair of public infrastructure, including water retention for the area and parking and transit solutions at the nearby Hermann Park.

“In addition to partnering with the city, we love partnering with our neighbors,” Hermann Park Conservancy President Doreen Stoller said at the public hearing. “The dramatic transformation of Hermann Park is really a miracle.”

Three other people spoke in support of the creation of the Medical Center TIRZ on behalf of the park.

William McKeon, the president and CEO of the Texas Medical Center, mentioned how he fears the people of Houston could be cut off from the medical center when flooding occurs.

“Our hospitals have to be able to operate,” said Kamin, who said she was at the medical center during the freeze in 2021 and witnessed nurses flushing toilets with buckets of water.

Castex-Tatum said the new TIRZ is one that would provides benefits to all of Houston, not just those within the TIRZ boundaries.

Mayor Sylvester Turner noted the Medical Center area is the first TIRZ created under his term and probably the last.

McKeon also mentioned that Helix Park will be open at the Texas Medical Center next year as part of a broader project that involves adding collaborative and research buildings.

Prologis-Wayfair abatement zone

This zone was introduced for tax abatement purposes. Prologis Inc. and Wayfair LLC plan to make a 1.2 million-square-foot distribution center at 1550 Milner Road.

Prologis, the landowner, plans to invest $70 million, and Wayfair plans to invest $63.2 million to develop the project. Wayfair, which will run the facility, agreed to a minimum starting salary of $15 per hour and to create 400 full-time jobs by 2026.

Kamin noted while this is something the area needs, WayFair previously furnished beds for immigrant detention centers.

The mayor noted there has been a lack of investment in District B for decades, which he said will not change overnight.

The Dec. 14 action approved the creation of the zone, and City Council will reconvene in January over the tax abatement agreement.

Toward the end of the meeting, at-large Council Member Sallie Alcorn noted that TIRZs are not meant to be permanent, and said there should be "scrutiny" placed on the ones that are successful in terms of accessing that money. Alcorn noted the idea of contiguous TIRZs, following up on a discussion that took place during the Houston Planning Commission's Dec. 7 meeting.