Bexar County Commissioners agreed to a nearly $3 million, 10-year property tax break with San Antonio-based Credit Human for the construction of its new, 10-story headquarters at the Pearl.

The motion for a 75% real and personal property tax abatement deal passed with an amendment directing staff to review the County’s current incentive policies and to present new proposals for handling incentive applications in the future by Jan. 1. No incentive applications will be considered during this period.

Credit Human, formerly the San Antonio Federal Credit Union, began applying for City and County incentives in March to lower the cost of construction for the office building. City Council will vote on an $5.9 million incentive package Thursday. The City is also poised to review its incentive policies.

The company currently employs a total of 696 workers, 439 of them locally. Its 10-year abatement agreement with the County requires that it invests more than $112 million in capital improvements and create 50 additional jobs while maintaining its current local employment numbers. The average annual salary for Credit Human employees is $61,024.

The company’s move to the Pearl will allow for consolidation of its North and West side operations into one building that will integrate into the city’s urban corridor, according to Credit Human President and CEO Stephen Hennigan.

“We’re being faced with a situation now where we so much want to be part of the urban corridor to extend our mission,” Hennigan said. “Space has been the challenge for us with respect to the urban corridors.”

Bill Shown, managing director of real estate for Pearl developer Silver Ventures, said that all of the funding received would go toward $7 million worth of public improvements slated for Broadway and surrounding streets. The projects also includes 950 parking spaces that would be made available to the public on nights and weekends.

“Both of those extensive public improvements,” Shown said. “All of the funding that we’ll receive will go towards the cost of those.”

Commissioners approved negotiating the tax abatement with a 4-0 vote. Commissioner Tommy Calvert (Pct. 4) was absent from the meeting.

County staff originally recommended a 90% tax abatement, but Commissioner Paul Elizondo (Pct. 2) argued in favor of lowering to 75%. Significant investments have been made in the Pearl area in recent years, he said, and some of that focus has left residents on the South and West sides of the city wondering where the investments and incentives are in their communities.

“I know Silver Venture does a lot of other things, but everything is right there in that one area,” Elizondo said. “It’s hard to answer [why developers aren’t pushing towards the South and West sides] when you add up the investment that the governments in this community have made towards that one particular area.”

Elizondo’s recommendation was picked up by Commissioner Kevin Wolff (Pct. 3) who added the amendment to the recommendation. After nearly a decade of focusing incentives on downtown, the County should measure the markets in need, he said, suggesting a residential focus.

He directed staff to work on updating all of the County’s incentive rules and take a closer look at geographic areas the County is trying to rehabilitate.

County Commissioners are not the only officials who want to see incentive policies reviewed. On Oct. 2, City Councilman Greg Brockhouse (D6) called for a review of the City’s incentive strategies and policies.

Brockhouse specifically targeted inner city reinvestment and infill policy and boundaries, Center City Housing Incentive Policy, San Antonio Housing Trust Policies, Property Tax Abatement Policies, and Impact and Development Fee Structure and Waivers. His Council Consideration Request (CCR) was also signed by Council members Roberto Treviño (D1), Ana Sandoval (D7), John Courage (D9), and Clayton Perry (D10).

“There’s a definite opportunity for us to expand our incentive program to start to thinking more about small and medium sized businesses across San Antonio,” Brockhouse said. “We could share that wealth a little bit better, we could push it out further to every corner of San Antonio.”

While suggesting that the Broadway corridor has seen sufficient City support, Brockhouse also said Tuesday that he planned to support the incentive package for Credit Human when it came to a City Council vote on Thursday.

Jeffrey Sullivan

Jeffrey Sullivan is a Rivard Report reporter. He graduated from Trinity University with a degree in Political Science.