HOUSTON -

Houston City Council members voted Wednesday to grant tax incentives to developers in an effort to lure more residents and retailers in the heart of downtown.

The Downtown Living Initiative, also known as the 380 Program, will provide a per-unit subsidy to developers who construct more housing within the next several years.

"We have a lack of retail downtown and we believe this is needed to make it happen, to continue the momentum," said Andy Icken, the city of Houston's chief development officer.

This is the second time in recent years that the city has approved the tax incentives to pave the way for construction of additional downtown living space.

Supporters credit the plan will spurring development around Main Street, Market Square and Minute Maid Park.

"The important point of the downtown living initiative was not only incentives and costs, but we've been at the table on design aspects on all of those projects," said Icken.

For companies to qualify for the subsidy, they must agree to build residential units with the idea of creating ground retail space with a pedestrian-oriented environment.

Icken said several contracts are pending under the Downtown Living Initiative and will break ground on construction very soon.