Brownsville’s City Commission on Tuesday approved two resolutions to donate more than 76 acres of land to the University of Texas System as part of the city’s push to develop a Brownsville “urban campus” in the downtown area.
The changes to the Government Code allow donations of two land tracts, of 55.43 acres and 21.5 acres, to the UT System “upon the system’s selection of a downtown location for its Brownsville campus,” a portion of the resolutions reads.
Voting in favor of the donation were Commissioners Estela Chavez Vasquez, Melissa Zamora, Rose M.Z. Gowen, Ricardo Longoria and John Villarreal. Commissioner Jessica Kalifa Tetreau abstained.
Mayor Tony Martinez said the land belongs to the city and will be donated to the UT System if the UT-Brownsville campus stays in the downtown area.
“This is in line with trying to keep the university, which is an economic engine for the city. It is also probably in the interest of TSC as well as the community in the downtown area,” Martinez said.
“Should the university decide that they are not going to locate in the downtown area, then of course this would void the donation,” he said.
The city submitted its “urban campus” proposal to the UT System last year. Many officials have wanted to keep UTB from relocating north of the downtown area. Some city-owned land has been reviewed by Cannon Design, an international urban planning and city design firm the UT System hired as a consultant to help decide whether to expand UTB from its current location or relocate to somewhere on the city’s north side. The parcels included two vacant armories near the REK Center on the current UTB-Texas Southmost College campus, Lincoln Park and an adjacent 17.4-acre parcel owned by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service that the city hopes to acquire in a land swap, officials said.
UT System officials are expected to decide the future site of UTB sometime next month.