A Sam’s Club warehouse store will be established in Harlingen.
Reyna Family Development Ltd. of Weslaco and Sam’s Real Estate Business Trust of Arkansas closed on the land purchase for the store’s location at Spur 54 and Expressway 77 near Bass Pro Shops, city officials confirmed.
“It closed Friday at 4 p.m.,” outgoing District 5 Commissioner Joey Treviño verified Saturday. The business’ new location is in District 5.
Pending a formal announcement, Mayor Chris Boswell was very hesitant to respond to questions Saturday. But when pressed, he said, “My understanding is that the real estate (transaction) has closed.”
“It’s a great thing. Project Uncle will be a great thing,” Boswell added. He referred the arrival of the store as Project Uncle as the city has called the business during negotiations.
Boswell said that the groundbreaking is expected to take place before the end of March. This, he said, is the result of a concerted effort that began five or six years ago to develop the retail industry in the city.
“It has paid off,” the mayor said of the city’s investment in infrastructure and utilities in that area, adding that Bass Pro Shops also served as a catalyst for further development. “It’s a win-win situation for all,” Boswell added.
Representatives from Sam’s Club were not immediately available to comment.
The timing of the land transaction, however, coincides with the agreement that Reyna Family Development has with the Harlingen Economic Development Corporation, public records show.
HEDC provided the developer with $2 million for site improvements and infrastructure for construction of a commercial and retail shopping center.
The agreement specifies that Reyna was to sell and convey title to Sam’s Club in 16.01 acres no later than Sunday, Dec. 30.
Reyna committed to construct a 100,000-square-feet retail space for Sam’s Club by Dec. 30, 2013. The developer also is to sell a minimum of three of five available lots for pad sites for retail or restaurant space of a minimum of 30,000 square feet no later than one year after receiving any payment from HEDC.
Furthermore, Reyna is to invest a minimum of $4 million, including 20.25 acres and/or cause others to invest at least $15 million by Sept. 30, 2015, public records show.
Boswell said that the city’s investment in infrastructure and utilities is what cities do so that a city can grow, encourage this type of progress, and that is what it took “to make this deal work.”
The developments also result from efforts of approximately a year by the City Commission that includes Commissioners Danny Castillo, Robert Leftwich, Mike Mezmar and Jerry Prepejchal, who, as Treviño, recently lost his election bid, and the HEDC.
“I think it’s great,” said Prepejchal, who noted that the land-closing occurred Friday. “We worked too hard on it. I am relieved,” he added.
“It’s a big boost to the economy, the city, and region,” Prepejchal added.
Although Treviño abstained on votes regarding Sam’s Club because the firm that he works for did the engineering for the developer, he said that he feels like part of the atmosphere created within the city that led to significant inroads in economic development.
Victor Leal, the incoming District 5 commissioner, did not return a telephone call for comment, and HEDC CEO Raudel Garza didn’t respond to a telephone call seeking comment.
It became apparent earlier this month that negotiations were being finalized when the commission approved a collateral assignment and agreement between Reyna and Sam’s Real Estate Business Trust to allow the latter to perform Reyna’s construction obligations under certain conditions.
Boswell said that there will be a lot more announcements in 2013, adding, “We’re really happy.”