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Harlingen Mayor Chris Boswell speaks at a news conference held at The Reese in Harlingen, Texas, on Nov. 30, 2016.

HARLINGEN, RGV – Harlingen Mayor Chris Boswell says his city is the “greatest place” in the Rio Grande Valley to do business if the business is Valley-wide in nature.

The reason for this is because Harlingen is centrally located, the mayor said. Boswell made his comments at a news conference to announce that over 27,000 square feet of office space has been leased at The Reese, an historic downtown building.

The tenant is the Commission on Immigrations ProBar Project, better known as ProBar, an offshoot of the American Bar Association.

Harlingen Mayor Chris Boswell
Harlingen Mayor Chris Boswell

“This is a really exciting day for the City of Harlingen and in particular our downtown,” Boswell said. “The leasing of 27,000 square feet in this huge building is a great milestone. It reinforces what we say all the time. Harlingen is the greatest place in the Valley to do business because it is centrally located.

“If you have a Valley-wide business, this is the place to centralize your operations so you can serve your customers throughout the Valley. That is exactly what ProBar is doing by coming in to our community. So, thank you, ProBar.”

Jo Wagner and her son Todd Aune are owners of The Reese Plaza Development, LLC. Boswell paid tribute to them both at the news conference. “They have come in and make a real difference in the local economy by taking an historic building that had fallen into such disrepair and made it into a beautiful asset. They have invested their time, their talent, their treasure in restoring this historic building that makes our downtown even more viable,” Boswell said.

“They should be recognized for this achievement. They should be recognized for their entrepreneurial spirit. They should be recognized for their belief in our community,” Boswell added.

Todd Aune told the Rio Grande Guardian that 75 percent of The Reese will be filled when ProBar moves in. He thanked the realtor that represented his company in the negotiations, Connie de la Garza, and he thanked the architects and builders that will be remodeling the facility. “A lot of people have put in a lot of hard work,” Aune said.

Raudel Garza, executive director of Harlingen Economic Development Corporation, said having a team of attorneys that are young, talented and educated working in downtown Harlingen is great for the city.

“They are not only going to be working here, they are going to be spending their money here and adding to the vitality of downtown. We are excited about that. It reinforces what we know, that Harlingen is the center of the Valley in terms of population and activity. It is what we keep telling people. If you want to do business on a regional level and need one single location to base yourself out of, this is it,” Garza said.

Asked how the economy of Harlingen is doing, Garza said it is steadily growing. Sales tax revenues are up about two and half percent over last year. “Even though Peso has hurt some retailers we are positive for the year. We should end on a pretty good note and next year will be even better,” Garza said. He pointed out that a couple of new restaurants are coming to Harlingen – Hooters and Cheddar’s – and possibly some new hotels.

Original story on The Reese and ProBar, posted Nov. 30, 2016:

Historic Reese building in downtown Harlingen has new tenants

HARLINGEN, RGV – Jo Wagner and Todd Aune, owners of The Reese Plaza Development, LLC, have announced that the entire third and fourth floors of The Reese have been leased.

The tenant is the Commission on Immigrations ProBar Project, better known as ProBar, an offshoot of the American Bar Association.

Connie de la Garza, broker and owner of Bahnman Realty, represented The Reese. John Goodman, managing broker of Savills Studley, Chicago, represented ProBar.

“The Reese is a five-story building in downtown Harlingen,” de la Garza told the Rio Grande Guardian. “We have had the first floor and fifth floor completely occupied. Today, we are announcing that the American Bar Association’s arm, Pro Bar, is leasing the entire third and fourth floor – over 27,000 square feet of office space.”

Connie de la Garza
Connie de la Garza

Colletti’s Italian Restaurant occupies the first floor of The Reese. Harlingen Mayor Chris Boswell often holds his State of the City addresses at The Reese. Boswell was at today’s news conference.

De la Garza said ProBar will have about 21 attorneys and 59 legal aides and assistants in the office.

“There will be a total of 80 people in here. The mayor just had a press conference to that affect. We are very, very, happy. The move in date is on a fast track. March 1. On that date, we will have a big ribbon-cutting ceremony.”

Asked how big a deal the project is, de la Garza said: “It is a big deal for Harlingen because all we had here was four concrete walls and nothing else. In four months, we are going to have first class offices. It is probably the largest office lease done in Harlingen in years.”

Editor’s Note: Shon Gonzalez and Ron Whitlock contributed to this story with interviews and photos from Harlingen, Texas.