McALLEN, RGV – The City of McAllen is set to issue bonds for the 2,571-acre master-planned Tres Lagos project, which includes a new Texas A&M University satellite campus.

McAllen Mayor Jim Darling says there will be two separate bond issues, one for the Texas A&M building, which will bring in $20 million, and one for a Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone, or TIRZ, which will bring in $36 million.

Jim Darling
Jim Darling

Tax Increment Reinvestment Zones are special zones created by a city council to attract new investment to an area. TIRZs help finance the cost of redevelopment and encourage development in an area that would otherwise not attract sufficient market development in a timely manner. Taxes attributable to new improvements (tax increments) are set-aside in a fund to finance public improvements within the boundaries of the zone.

“We got our issues sorted out with the attorney general so we shall be putting the bond issue out next month. There has been a lot of leg work. A lot of financial guys working with the attorney general’s office. All TIRZ agreements are different. It is not a cookie cutter. The attorney general’s office had different questions about different aspects of it. So we straightened them out,” Darling said.

Asked how big a project Tres Lagos will be for McAllen and surrounding communities, Darling said there is a lot of development to the north of McAllen. “I flew on a helicopter ride the other day and it is amazing the growth, not only in McAllen but in Mission and Edinburg. Most cities grow north. We do not have much choice but to grow north. There is a lot of growth from everybody in those areas.”

McAllen City Manager Roy Rodriguez said it is common for the attorney general’s office to get involved in TIRZ agreements.

“We will be selling bonds next month for the Texas A&M Campus infrastructure,” Rodriguez said, at a recent McAllen Economic Development Council meeting. “We made the big announcement (about a Texas A&M campus) last September and it kind of went quiet. But, we have been doing a lot of work. All the filing documents are ready and we are in the final stages of answering questions from the attorney general. Don’t worry, this happens every time. We get a lot of questions about TIRZ. That is going to happen next month and construction is going to start.”

Plans call for the Texas A&M satellite campus to be open for classes in McAllen in the fall of 2017. Texas A&M University System has been allocated a 100-acre tract of land within the Tres Lagos project.

Tres Lagos is a 2,571-acre master-planned community being developed by Rhodes Enterprises. The company says the project will include single-family homes, multi-family homes, commercial and retail space, health care facilities, schools and churches. The first phase will feature homes valued between $180,000 to $1 million. “Tres Lagos will provide residents with over 20 miles of hike and bike trails, over 200 acres of public parks including pools, sports fields, playgrounds, picnic area, and fishing. The development will also feature over 100 acres of Lakes as well as a community Water Park,” Rhodes Enterprises announced last year.

In an interview with the Rio Grande Guardian, Mike Rhodes, of Rhodes Enterprises, said Tres Lagos will have Fiber-to-Home and bundled technology including Gigabit speed Internet, which is 300 times faster than average high speed Internet. The development will also host community Wi-Fi, alarm monitoring, video surveillance and smart home technology.

Click here to read a feature on Mike Rhodes and Tres Lagos.

In other McAllen news, City Manager Rodriguez said there are three hotels under construction at the city’s convention center. “Obviously, we are pretty excited about that. A fourth hotel will break ground in the next 60 days. We are finally going to get what we need at the convention center campus. It will get us somewhere around 500 to 600 rooms. The performing arts center is still scheduled to be completed sometime in August or September. We are working on a grand opening and the opening acts.”

Rodriguez said McAllen’s “big secret” is now out.  “The big secret is La Plaza Mall is expanding. It is a huge expansion, the biggest since the mall was built. The secret is who is going to come in here. We are very excited. It is an agreement we have been working on now for a while. We hope to announce that in the next 60-90 days, as well as closing the civic center. We are scheduled to close the civic center next month. We are filing our 380 agreement with a developer and we are real happy with what they are planning to build out there.”

Rodriguez said that at the end of last year the city commission approved a draft plan for the downtown and entertainment district. “We know that the downtown area is a vital part of our city and we must throw out a lot of energy to ensure that it survives and is a success. We are working on that,” he said.