|BROWNSVILLE, May 18 - At an open forum for UT-Brownsville staff on Friday, Dr. Guy Bailey was asked where he thought the UT-Rio Grande Valley administrative offices should go.
Bailey, the sole finalist for president of UTRGV, said the selection would be made by the UT System Board of Regents. However, he did offer his own thoughts.
“If you have got a spot on the Cameron-Hidalgo county line - that would be it. I do not know if anybody submitted it. Somebody asked me about a house. I thought if I could buy some property and half the house in one county and half in the other I would have it made,” Bailey said, in response to a question from the UTB Collegian newspaper.
The UT System has received 15 proposals to house UTRGV’s HQ. One of these, authored jointly by the cities of Mercedes and La Feria, would see the university’s headquarters built in Hidalgo County right next to the boundary with Cameron County.
Bailey was also asked how he would build synergies between the two main campuses that will make up UTRGV – the UTB campus in Brownsville and the UT-Pan American campus in Edinburg.
“The reputation of the Valley outside the Valley is that it is always Friday night. You legislative delegation had already taken the lead on this in creating this institution. What they have done is set a path for us and it is now up to us to implement what they have already done. If you think about this, it was not an easy thing for your legislative delegation across the Valley to come together and agree on this. They had to put aside some local issues. We will try to do the same thing,” Bailey said.
Bailey then listed some of the things he wants to do to ensure the campuses are united.
“We want to make sure this new institution serves the entire Valley. It will be a distributed institution and my job is to make sure it is fairly distributed. I am anxious to do this. The other thing, we are trying to serve students across the Valley. It is real important the entire Valley be served that way,” Bailey said.
“The last thing, the Valley has the potential to have a tremendous impact in this state, in this nation. It won’t have it if it is McAllen, or Harlingen, or Brownsville. If the Valley acts in unison, the impact that you will have on what happens in this state and in this nation is really tremendous.”
Bailey said it is his job to remind everybody of that.
The deadline to submit a proposal to house the UTRGV HQ was 5 p.m. on Thursday. A total of 15 proposals were submitted to the UT System. Of these, eight came from cities in the Valley, one came from an economic development corporation, and six came from private developers. The UT System has not released details on what the proposals consist of.
Here are the names of those who submitted a proposal, in the order provided by the UT System:
1. City of Edinburg
2. City of Harlingen
3. City of Mercedes
4. Cielo Realty Partners
5. Roberto S. Zamora
6. Cadence Commercial Real Estate
7. D&M Ventures, LLC
8. City of San Benito
9. City of Brownsville
10. City of Weslaco
11. The Economic Development Corporation of Weslaco
12. City of San Juan
13. S.E.R.R. Properties, LLC
14. MVP Partnership, Ltd.
15. City of McAllen
Dr. Bailey is slated to be appointed inaugural president of UTRGV by the UT System Board of Regents next week. On Friday, Bailey visited UTB in the morning and UTPA in the afternoon. He held open forums with faculty, staff and students on both campuses and met privately on both campuses with state legislators from the Valley.
At UTPA, Joey Treviño, executive director of the Economic Development Corporation of Weslaco, introduced himself to Bailey.
“We are very excited about the proposal we have made to the UT System,” Treviño told the Guardian. He pointed out that Weslaco already has a number of regional headquarters, such as DPS and a number of Texas A&M institutions. Also headquartered in Weslaco are the Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council and the Rio Grande Valley Partnership.
“We are in the center of the Valley. We are the regional headquarters and the corporate headquarters of the Valley,” Treviño said.
A news release issued by Weslaco EDC states that its proposal includes the gifting of 21.67 acres of infrastructure-ready property with adjacent room for growth to The University of Texas System. It is located next to Interstate 2.
“The site, which provides immediate access to Interstate Loop 2, is minutes away from first class dining, shopping, and parks and recreation facilities that include many national chains and local businesses. Weslaco’s Mid Valley Regional Airport, the largest general aviation airport south of San Antonio, is only five minutes away from the proposed site,” the news release states.
The Request for Proposals from the UT System did not state how much land would be needed for the UTRGV administration headquarters. However, it has to be large enough to house a building with 100 full-time workers in it. There must also be room to grow on adjacent land, should UTRGV get bigger.
The RFP states that "the transaction may be a gift, a purchase, or a bargain purchase at a price below market value. The overall net cost to the Board of the Site and HQ Building, including all on-site and off-site costs, will be one of many factors considered in the selection of the Site."
The RFP also states that "the preference is for sites that are immediately available for construction, with utility infrastructure to at least perimeter of the property and adequate roadways for suitable access to the site."
Proximity to mass transportation is an important factor, the RFP states, as is quality of life for the workers at the HQ.
The RFP states that between May 15 and July 15 the sites will be evaluated, with one or more sites identified for negotiation. Between July 15 and August 31, negotiations will occur and a contract entered into, with Board approval of the selected site. Between August 31 and November 15, due diligence will be undertaken and other necessary approvals sought. Between November 15 and December 15, there will be a closing of the gift and/or sale transaction.