Farmers Branch offering huge tax incentives in home rebuilding program

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by STEVE STOLER

WFAA

Posted on January 25, 2013 at 7:19 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 25 at 7:19 PM

FARMERS BRANCH -- We've seen General Electric get tax incentives to building a new locomotive factory west of Texas Motor Speedway, just north of Alliance.

Nationstar Mortgage Holdings Inc. got incentives to move its Lewisville call center to Irving.

Even the TV show "Dallas" got cash incentives to shoot in North Texas.

If corporations can get these deals, why can't you?

Farmers Branch is hoping the same kind of incentives offered to corporations will lure in new home owners -- getting your dream home, along with years of lower property taxes.

It’s called the Demo Rebuild Program. It allows city residents and local home builders to tear down existing homes and build new ones with huge tax benefits.

On Mount View Street in Farmers Branch, new large homes tower over old ones. The plan to revitalize the city's older neighborhoods with new, more expensive homes is slowly working.

"I can see the houses," said Linda McFall, a Farmers Branch homeowner. "Some of them are just going down and people aren't taking care of them."

The incentives are enticing.

Tear a house down and build a new one. City property taxes on the new home is based on the value of the one razed. That tax value is then frozen for seven years.

"If you took advantage of that particular incentive and had your tax rate or value frozen at that rate for seven years, yes, you'll save a lot of money," said Les Black, who built a new house in the neighborhood.

The city is running a series of ads on North Texas radio stations, touting the rebuild program.

"If you're thinking about building a new home, stop and listen to this," says the announcer on the spot. "The City of Farmers Branch has a program that will freeze your city property tax value for seven years, seven years."

Susan Weston built a new house where an old one was torn down. That was seven years ago, before the program started.

"If they could keep that tax base from the previous house, it would be phenomenal," Weston said. "These houses are valued at what, $100,000? $115,000, maybe?"

Linda McFall grew up in one of the older homes. But she says the rebuild is good for the neighborhood.

"I just think the property values are going down without them taking care of it," McFall said. "So I'm all for it. I think they should be torn down and your dream home built."

With the housing market rebounding, neighbors expect to see many more new homes popping up where the old ones are gone.

E-mail sstoler@wfaa.com

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