WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — Additional housing in the downtown area, as well as a multi-level restaurant and rooftop bar, were the topics of discussion in Tuesday’s Wichita Falls City Council meeting.
Petroleum Building owner Will Kelty says it would virtually double the amount of living space downtown which could mean more money for local businesses in the area. The City Council Tuesday unanimously approved the first step to making it happen.
Will Kelty is a man on a mission, and he’s one step closer to completing that mission.
“I went in front of the City Council and I asked them for consideration to do what’s called a tax abatement on the property,” Kelty said.
Kelty has been working for years trying to turn the old Petroleum Building that has sat vacant for more than a decade into 170 housing units, but he can’t get it done without this tax abatement.
“It doesn’t mean that you don’t pay property taxes, what it means is that your property taxes continue from their current value and over the course of 10 years. They step up to the value of what the finished product is going to be,” Kelty said.
The city council approved creating a reinvestment zone for the property, which paves the way in March for the tax abatement.
If that is approved, Executive Director for Downtown Wichita Falls Development Jana Schmader said that could have a significant impact on downtown Wichita Falls.
“It really is a catalyst in getting more people to invest down here because you’re centralizing a population now that will be in downtown all the time,” Schmader said.
Just down the road above Picker’s Universe, a multi-level restaurant and rooftop bar is being built, but due to the pandemic and material costs, an extension of time to use funds provided from the 4B was approved by city councilors allowing contractors to finish up the build.
“There are so many things that are happening and I think that the public a lot of times remember that big momentum when we had a lot of things happening at once and over the course of the last year or so we’ve tackled some bigger projects so it does slow it down, it does delay it but it doesn’t mean that momentum isn’t there,” Schmader said.
Momentum that Kelty is hoping to add to if he gets the final go-ahead from City Council.
“It’s a huge step towards the revitalization of downtown, which again has this huge economic impact for the city of Wichita Falls itself,” Kelty said.
“We love these projects, we think it’s huge, we get excited for all of the opening days and watching construction come to fruition so 2022 and 2023 are going to be big years for downtown,” Schmader said.
Schmader said the multi-level restaurant and bar is expected to be complete within the next six months. Kelty said it should take council around 30 to 45 days to make a decision on the tax abatement.