Claire Kowalick, Times Record News Published 2:45 p.m. CT April 30, 2018
A resurrection of downtown Wichita Falls is not just visible on the streets – it is also visible in the numbers.
The Wichita County Appraisal District reports 19 properties in downtown have increasing in value by more than $2 million in the past year.
Chief Appraiser Lisa Stephens-Musick said when considering property values, they pull from a variety of information.
“Once the permits are pulled, we start following it,” she said.
The district notes when renovation began on structures, condition of the building and possible use of the property when complete.
Many spots in downtown are listed with the appraisal district as a “dead property.” This means the structure has not been occupied or remodeled in several years.
Dead properties tend to have very low value.
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Properties in some state of remodeling hold relatively little additional value until the renovation is complete.
For instance, the “Big Blue” building at 719 Scott Street is in a state of remodel.
While it has a couple tenants, the 12-story structure still needs some work before reaching its full value.
In this file photograph, Beau Dameron points out antique ceiling tiles that he and his partners will restore at their downtown retail store, 922 Indiana Ave. The partners said putting in the grocery store is their top priority to serve residents and downtown business employees alike. Times Record News file
Stephens-Musick said Big Blue’s current value is just $156,260.
Properties with the most value tend to be those that are occupied with an active business, office or residential use.
The five complete, or mostly complete, downtown projects added $1,443,969 in property value in just one year (2017 to 2018).
These properties include:
The Half Pint Taproom and Restoration Hall, 817 Ohio Ave. (plus a city-leased patio added $27,087 in lease-hold interest) – Increased in value by more than $460,000. The property was under renovation for more than five years and more than tripled in value once they opened their doors in 2017.
The Karat/Ganache Cakery, 800 Ohio Ave. – Increased in value by nearly $260,000 after the former Zale’s Jewelry building was turned into a fine-dining restaurant and bakery.
When Matt Bitsche brought the Wichita Falls Brewing Company to the former Hub building at Seventh and Indiana, its value went up close to $300,000.
The Warehouse, an entertainment rental venue owned by P2, The Deuce, at 1401 Lamar, added more than $400,000 in value in the past year. The spot is now the largest, privately owned event center in the city.
Hundreds of people eat and mingle during the 2017 Texoma’sBuy Photo
Hundreds of people eat and mingle during the 2017 Texoma’s Best Awards banquet Tuesday night at The Warehouse next door to the Times Record News as the area’s best businesses, people and organizations were recognized. (Photo: Patrick Johnston/Times Record News)
“Watching it (downtown revitalization) is exiting. From where it started, and now all the people that are interesting in doing things downtown,” Stephens-Musick said.
A point of interest – like an active downtown area – could be a draw for future businesses to come to Wichita Falls.
Stephens-Musick said Texas can be an excellent value for businesses or individuals coming from out of state because it does not have income tax.
Looking only at property taxes, it may seem like Wichita Falls’ taxes are high, but compared to states with income and other taxes, Texas is nearly rock bottom.
Per a study by the Tax Foundation looking at total tax burden, Texas ranks 46th for total tax burden.
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Wichita Falls Deputy City Manager Jim Dockery said increased property values is great news for a municipality’s economy.
“It is one indicator that the economic engine is running well. Even though higher values can mean higher taxes, it more importantly means that the citizens’ and businesses’ properties are worth move as an investment,” he said Monday.
In the downtown area, Dockery said when appraised values increase, the additional tax goes into a Tax Increment Financing Fund (TIF).
“This means that the additional taxes can only be used in the downtown zone in the form of public and sometimes private improvements,” he said.
Downtown projects still under renovation vary in value, depending on what is completed, if some of the structure is open to business and other factors.
In this file photo, the Crescent Plaza Hotel at theBuy Photo
In this file photo, the Crescent Plaza Hotel at the corner of 8th and Scott Street, also known as the Petroleum Building is seen when it sold in 2016, after sitting vacant for years. The new owner, Will Kelty, was approved for up to $800,000 for a fire suppression system through the city’s 4B Board. (Photo: Times Record News file photo)
Of these 14 properties under construction, the one that made the most gains in property value this past year was Petroleum Building at 726 Scott.
Housing the Highlander Public House restaurant on the first floor, this building will soon have several floors of dormitory-style apartments. Owner Will Kelty is investing about $8 million in the housing project. The property value in 2017 was $170,910 and jumped to $451,223 in 2018.
Other downtown properties under construction include:
A building across from the Farmers Market owned by Tucker Resources – unknown renovation, possibly artistic studios.
City Center (two projects – first floor coffee shop/retail, additional floors will be apartments.) – more than doubled in value.
Brown Building, 901 Ninth – Renovation started for upscale apartments
1100 Lamar – Set to be affordable senior-living apartments in former Shriner building. Construction set to begin in 2018.
Hook & Ladder Coffee and Wine Co. – Firefighter-owned coffee roaster and wine tasting set to move into refurbished building at 616 Seventh.
822 Indiana, owner Ryan Hager Construction
922 Indiana, owner Legacy 922
914 Indiana, owner Vectra No. 3
814 Indiana – recently purchased by Proximity Solutions
614 Seventh – recently purchased by John Dickinson and Danny Ahern.
823 Travis – property has increased in value about $70,000 in past year.
Broken Tap bar, at 811 Indiana – remodeled in 2015. Value increased about $10,000 in the past year.
Wichita Falls Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Henry Florsheim said downtown revitalization is a top priority for the city in both the strategic plan and new community-wide growth plan.
“If we ever expect to be a great city, we have to create an amazing historic district,” he said.
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In the May 5 bond election, most of the propositions would have some effect on downtown, Florsheim said, with Props D and G having the most effect.
“A new downtown municipal center would revitalize an area that looks extremely run down and add 400 or more people to the downtown mix nearly every day of the year –people who currently aren’t walking to the downtown core to buy lunch or go shopping,” he said.
“Proposition G would rebuild our streets and sidewalks in a nine-block area while adding lighting, bike lanes and trees that don’t tear up the sidewalks – creating a welcoming, safe environment that would attract more locals and visitors, encourage more private investment downtown and give us an amazing environment which would help us attract people to move here. It’s what people want in a city today,” Florsheim said.