Officials with Edinburg Planning and Zoning are embarking on a six-month process to possibly change the look of new businesses developing in the downtown area.

Focusing only on the study area identified in the city’s downtown revitalization masterplan, P&Z is looking to change the form-based codes for future businesses by making them look more in line with the “historical character” of Edinburg, officials say.

Form-based codes set out by the city determine the look and structure of specific businesses.

“The idea is to begin to improve the downtown area, both within the public and private sector, in order to make it more attractive for people coming into Edinburg,” said Juan Lopez, director of Planning and Zoning. “Having the codes, then we would provide guidelines for the (new) business owner or property owner who wants to go in there. We want to enhance, we want to improve, we want to attract people, and we want to make downtown the heart of the city.”

No specific aesthetic for new businesses has been determined, as P&Z will be working with the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation to develop the codes over the next six months.

Officials are also considering how new businesses could offset the costs that might arise from having specific guidelines in place. While nothing has been determined, Lopez says the city may consider a facade enhancement program, which may provide incentives to businesses seeking to move into the downtown. At the outset, existing businesses will not affected by the changes unless they undergo expansions once the codes are set in place.

“We will go through a public hearing process as well, that way the guidelines and facades that the city would like to have done will be presented to the business owners and people that are leasing the buildings in order to give us some input,” Lopez said. “There will architectural renderings prepared, that are part of the codes. The codes are going to be pretty clear, so people know what to do before they apply for a permit.”