Brownsville: Funding Comes In for Historic El Jardin Hotel Renovation
Feature Illustration: Schematic of the front elevation of a restored El Jardin, a 1920s hotel being converted to income-restricted housing. Courtesy: BHOC.
by Adolfo Pesquera
Brownsville (Cameron County) — A crucial funding source for the long sought renovation of the historic El Jardin Hotel has been secured and officials with the Housing Authority of the City of Brownsville are in a celebratory mood.
An archive photo, circa 1926, of El Jardin Hotel in downtown Brownsville.
The Governing Board of the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs accepted El Jardin as eligible for its “at-risk set aside” program, which provides financial assistance to existing buildings in need of rehabilitation for future income-restricted housing.
On July 22, the Governing Board awarded the project sponsor a 9% housing tax credit of $1,180,840. Such tax credits are worth 10 times the award because they’re applied toward federal tax liability each year for a decade on a dollar-for-dollar basis in exchange for investment in the property.
The renovation of El Jardin, located at 1114 E. Levee St. in downtown, will provide rent controlled housing for 44 low income families. Forty-two of the units will be on the second to eighth floors and two units will be at ground level.’
The remainder of the first floor will provide space for an amenity center for residents, as well as space for the lease office.
The award was given to the Brownsville Housing Opportunity Corporation, which is a subsidiary of the city housing authority. BHOC President Patricio Sampayo told the Brownsville Herald that the tax credit award helps preserve a critical piece of Brownsville’s history and creates more affordable housing.
Elevation of the El Jardin property as seen from 11th Street.
The hotel was constructed in 1926-1927. It has been vacant and in disrepair for decades. The housing authority first applied for tax credits in 2019, but only now received an award; 9% tax credits and competitive and only issued once per project.
The estimated cost of construction is about $11.7 million. Including soft costs and other fees, the total development cost has been estimated at $18,548,820.
The housing authority created a special purpose entity, El Jardin BHOC LP, to own the property. As part of the application process for the tax credit award, El Jardin BHOC LP, as the borrower, obtained a commitment letter from the International Bank of Commerce for a $14 million interim construction loan that, upon closing, is dedicated to the real estate acquisition, development and new construction of El Jardin.
The building will have a rentable area of 42,994 square feet, and a gross area of 68,319 square feet.
The overall concept site plan for the El Jardin property.
The lot where El Jardin stands occupies .83 acres of a city block. A concept site plan prepared by the project architect, OrigoWorks of Brownsville, includes an outdoor recreation area to the rear of the building.
Components of the recreation area include a children’s playscape, community garden, covered pavilion, fountain, barbecue pits, covered patio, and jogging path. South of the recreation area is a small parking lot for 14 vehicles.
Features of the indoor amenity center include a community room with kitchen, a business center, fitness center, classroom, restrooms and a foyer. There is also a leasable space at the corner of Levee and 11th Street for possible future retail.
As of the date of the tax credit award, a general contractor had not been named.
Adolfo Pesquera (Reporter/Editor) is a veteran news journalist. He has worked for Hearst Corp., American Lawyer Media, News Corp and Freedom Communications. His work has been published in newspapers and magazines across the USA. He is a journalism graduate of UT-RGV. He writes, edits and creates digital pages for VBX.