In a quiet corner of downtown Killeen, one man's vision is slowly coming together.
The Killeen Daily Herald reports Louie Minor, a local businessman and Army veteran, recently stood on the renovated front porch of what will soon be his two-bed, two-bath home on Avenue I. For Minor, 39, the home, originally constructed in 1913, represents his desire to see a retouched downtown that Killeen residents can take pride in.
"For the money I've spent on this home, I probably could have bought a brand new home in south Killeen," Minor said. "But it wouldn't have any of the character."
That character has come at a cost.
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Minor said he has put around $100,000 into the more-than-1,300-square-foot-home over the span of a year. Fortunately for the general contractor and tech entrepreneur, the city of Killeen helped chip in on the costly and time-intensive project.
Minor's project qualified for waived permit fees as part of the city's North Killeen Reinvestment Zone, which encourages renovation and upgrades to the city's aging northern neighborhoods.
Under the program, the city agrees to waive all fees for building permits, plat applications, board of adjustment application, demolition permits, and zoning and sign fees in return for rehab projects that invest more than $2,000.
Minor, who will use home in the 500 block of West Avenue I as his personal residence, said the waivers didn't have a huge effect on the project cost but did show the city is interested in stoking new investment in the city center as new development continues in south Killeen.
"In the grand scheme of things, it wasn't a lot of money, but every bit helps," said Minor, who has run for political offices in the past. "Every dollar I don't spend on permits goes back into the house."
In total, Minor said, the waived permits totaled up to a couple thousand dollars.
When Minor bought the Avenue I home for around $30,000 on Zillow.com in early 2018, he planned for the two-story structure to be his new office.
After a dispute with the city over the placement of a fire hydrant required for a commercial property, Minor decided to use the house as his home — kick-starting a grand design to purchase more downtown property to install high-density container homes and pump investment into the neighborhood.
"All the growth seems to be focused in south Killeen," he said. "You see it in the roads, in the housing and structures out here. It's just being forgotten."
Minor's home, in the closing stages of renovation, has been a passion project aided by Minor's employees — specifically John Mendoza, who was recently busy caulking windows at the home.
"This is the guy doing all the hard work," Minor said as Mendoza teetered on a ladder in the home's front bedroom.
In addition to a mudroom in the northwest corner of the first story and redesigned kitchen on the northeast corner, Minor's planned dining room includes exposed original shiplap on the walls and ceiling — a bit of a miracle considering the condition of the rest of the home's original wood, he said.
On the second story, Minor plans a master bedroom suite with a walk-in closet, sitting area and master bathroom. Minor said most of the superficial work would be completed within weeks.
On the outside, Minor stripped out the original decking and installed new lumber with HardiPlank reinforcement on the front deck columns. Below the deck, Minor pointed out the original cedar stumps used to raise the home, a remarkable detail showing the home's history.
"I see opportunity here," Minor said. "I lived in Killeen before, and when I left the military I wanted to improve my community. I'm in a position where I can start doing things here locally. I'm not a big developer where I can go and buy 200 acres and put in brand new housing. But on these . lots (with existing infrastructure), it's a win-win for me with these revitalization programs. As an up and coming developer, that's what I want to focus on."
Minor said he hopes to have the home completed in March with an open house for the community and civic leaders.
If you are interested in applying for the city's North Killeen Revitalization Program, you can submit an application with the Building Inspections/Permits Department, 100 E. Avenue C, or the Planning Department, 200 E. Avenue D.
To qualify for approval, property owners must have property within the revitalization area boundaries, must not be delinquent on paying property taxes on that property and must not have any city liens on the property unless they have entered a payment plan.
Guidelines for renovations include physical improvement to the exterior and interior and upgrades to bring the property up to code.
Sexually oriented businesses, non-residential mobile structures and manufactured housing do not qualify for the program.
Information from: Killeen Daily Herald, http://www.kdhnews.com
This is an AP Member Exchange shared by the Killeen Daily Herald