Details emerge about McAllen’s proposal for UT-RGV headquarters - Brownsville Herald: Valley

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Details emerge about McAllen’s proposal for UT-RGV headquarters

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Posted: Wednesday, June 18, 2014 8:00 am

McALLEN — The McAllen City Commission submitted a proposal to the University of Texas System last month with at least two potential locations for the new University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley administrative headquarters.

While McAllen and the University of Texas System have appealed public information requests for the formal proposal to the Texas Attorney General’s Office — arguing that releasing the document would harm negotiations — public records already have hinted at two proposed locations.

The City Commission pitched the 495 Commerce Center development located at Jackson Road and Pecan Avenue; and another location southwest of Jackson Road and Dove Avenue, including land owned by business magnate Alonzo Cantu.

“It’s a Valleywide university,” said Mayor Jim Darling. “We’d like them to have some kind of presence in McAllen.”

Edinburg, Brownsville and other local governments also submitted proposals to host the UT-RGV headquarters, along with private developers. Details about whether McAllen submitted a third proposed location to the University of Texas System haven’t emerged publicly.

While the UT-RGV headquarters would employ well-paid administrators, who would presumably live nearby and boost the local economy, the City Commission primarily wants the accompanying prestige, Darling said, which would be similar to McAllen having a major corporate headquarters.

McAllen submitted at least two potential locations:

➤ Jackson Road and Dove Avenue

The City Commission proposed the University of Texas System build the UT-RGV headquarters in a major new development at the southwest corner of Dove Avenue and Jackson Road.

Documents reviewed Tuesday afternoon by the city Planning and Zoning Commission detail plans for the 38.3-acre development within sight of Doctors Hospital

at Renaissance.

Called “Renaissance Center Subdivision,” the development would mix apartments and townhomes with commercial buildings, according to a conceptual master plan prepared by The Warren Group Architects.

Residential development would occupy the southwest corner of Renaissance Center, which would have 48 apartments and 38 townhomes. Thirteen commercial buildings, including a four-story structure, would cover the remaining acreage and provide roughly 442,000 square feet of space.

Records from the Hidalgo County Appraisal District and corporate documents filed with the Texas Secretary of State show Renaissance Center would cover about 30.8 acres owned by Chazzland LLC, a corporate entity headed by Charles E. Thompson Jr. of McAllen; and another 17.5 acres owned by Owassa Property Ltd., a corporate entity headed by Alonzo Cantu through another company called Preference Inc.

Zoning paperwork signed by City Manager Roy Rodriguez lists the Chazzland LLC property owner as “City of McAllen (property under contract.)” And subdivision records also list McAllen as the owner and developer for Renaissance Center.

“I can’t really talk about that tract,” said City Commissioner Scott Crane, when asked about the land owned by Cantu’s company.

McAllen intends to acquire land near Jackson and Dove as a long-term investment, Crane said, adding that the property could allow Doctors Hospital to expand into McAllen or provide space for medical research.

Darling works for Doctors Hospital and said he recused himself from the City Commission discussions. Along with owning property covered by the Renaissance Center subdivision, Cantu also remains a major player in Doctors Hospital.

City Commission negotiations over the property owned by Cantu’s company remain ongoing.

➤ 495 Commerce Center

The City Commission also proposed the University of Texas System build the UT-RGV headquarters at 495 Commerce Center, a major commercial development at Jackson Road and Pecan Boulevard that’s already home to several federal government buildings.

The City Commission privately discussed McAllen’s proposal for the UT-RGV headquarters on May 8 during a special meeting. Afterward, they approved a motion suggested by City Attorney Kevin Pagan to authorize the City Manager’s Office and City Attorney’s Office to “complete the negotiations and execute the contract on the 495 property in line with the documents that were presented to you, but with modifications as may be necessary, based on the city manager’s and city attorney’s opinion about that.”

That motion referenced 495 Commerce Center.

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