Tax Credit Program Highlight: Baxter Building

Harlingen, Cameron County



Individually listed in the National Register of Historic Places

Historic Use


Current Use

Affordable Housing

Total Rehabilitation Cost


Qualified Rehabilitation Expenses


Date Certified

December 5, 2019


Also certified for federal tax credits.


The Baxter Building, once the tallest building in the Rio Grande Valley, is a modestly-ornamented 1920s skyscraper. Originally designed to be a 7-story office building, architects Elwing and Mulhausen added two more floors when another building threatened to be the area’s tallest. Robert W. Baxter, the building’s namesake, commissioned the skyscraper for office space for prominent businessmen, medical professionals, and other commercial tenants who were drawn to the area as agricultural investment boomed with construction of canals and railroads. Harlingen maintained steady economic growth through the post-World War II boom with the establishment of an Air Force base; however, the base’s closure in 1961 caused a drastic decline in population and in the downtown commercial district. The Baxter was underutilized and poorly maintained for decades before closing in 2013.

Rehabilitation Project

The first tax credit project completed in the Rio Grande Valley since 2012, this rehabilitation transformed a vacant eyesore in the heart of Harlingen into mixed-rate downtown loft apartments. The project took advantage of the state and federal rehabilitation tax credit programs as well as low income housing tax incentives. Despite decades of neglect, the building was still structurally very sound. Features that were deteriorated beyond repair, including the upper-floor windows, received matching replacements. All new systems were installed and new apartment layouts retrofitted into the building, and historic features such as terrazzo floors and paneled elevator doors were retained. A community room is housed in a new low-rise addition on an adjacent lot. The reuse of this anchor property has brought new vibrancy, foot traffic, and a renewed sense of safety to downtown Harlingen.

Photo Gallery

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