Fountains at Farah incentives paying off for City

Fountains at Farah incentives paying off for City

EL PASO, Texas - The City of El Paso currently has 70 tax incentive agreements in its economic development program.

Officials say one agreement in particular serves as a good example of how these incentives spark economic development.

The city is raving about the Fountains at Farah. The old-empty and run down Farah factory is long gone. Now, the site is the home of a massive new lifestyle shopping center.

"It was a very good investment that the city made in the area," said City Rep. Emma Acosta, who represents the area. "Obviously at some point those incentives have to be paid out and so a lot of times it's going to impact the homeowner. But at the same time, once that incentive is paid off then this property is going to be much more valuable than it has been in the last 40 years."

The property value in 2008, when the empty Farah factory was still there, was $16 million. The property value this year, with the new Fountains at Farah, is $113 million, an increase of more than 600-percent.

That means the City expects to pay down the $7.8 million in incentives extended to the Fountains in just five years.

"It's very good news for the taxpayer," Acosta said.

Just like the restaurant La Madeline, which is located in the promenade at the Fountains, Kona Grill, which opened in late June, has posted the highest first day, first week and first month sales of any Kona Grill in the country.

"We're really proud of that and we think moving forward we're going to be able to hopefully break more records," said Fountains Property Administrator Gio Silva. "Considering we're not 100-percent leased yet, we've had some tenants that have really done very well."

ABC-7 spotted Ramiro Rios and his daughter Angela eating lunch at the Kona Grill on Thursday.

"That's going to have a positive impact on both ourselves as taxpayers and on the city as a whole," Ramiro Rios said. "You take a rundown factory that was here, that wasn't being used, and now you have an awesome shopping center with awesome restaurants. It's an investment that's going to pay for itself."

"Our town is changing," Angela Rios said. "We're going in a new direction and I really like where we're going."

West Miller, president of Fountains at Farah, told ABC-7 that they anticipate exceeding what was originally budgeted in sales tax dollars, which is also good news for taxpayers.

Miller is worried, however, about the high property tax appraisal by the El Paso Central Appraisal District. He said he had hoped the property would only be appraised at $60 million, since it is not yet a full capacity. He said the high appraisal may discourage new retailers from coming to El Paso.

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