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Edinburg EDC treasurer Elias Longoria, Vantage Ventures partner Michael Fallek, and Edinburg EDC executive director Agustin 'Gus' Garcia.

EDINBURG, RGV – After participating in a groundbreaking ceremony for a Texas Department of Public Safety “mega center,” Edinburg Mayor Richard Garcia gave an interview about the development of his city’s 15-mile green field corridor along I-69 center.

Garcia was referring to currently undeveloped land along the expressway in the northern part of the city. The 25,000-square-foot facility that DPS is building is part of this development, as is a 90,000-square-foot Cinergy Cinemas & Entertainment at Resaca Market. This project will feature cinemas, bowling, multi-level laser tag, elevated ropes course, fully-loaded game floor, escape rooms, premium food offerings, a full-service bar, multiple event rooms, reserved ticketing, luxury recliner seating, and a Cinergy EPIC auditorium.

“I have always said I would rather be lucky than good and Edinburg is lucky to have all this space along the interstate,” Mayor Garcia told the Rio Grande Guardian.

“The DPS drivers’ license facility and the Cinergy project add to our ever-expanding I-69 corridor, which is scheduled to include a slew of shopping, dining, and entertainment venues in the form of a $250 million mega-retail project in North Edinburg.”

Garcia said I-69 Central in Edinburg is becoming known for providing retail and quality of life hot spots. By way of example he listed La Sienna’s Resaca Market, the HEB soccer park, and the Bert Ogden Arena. “The Edinburg I-69 corridor is fast becoming a major entertainment, lifestyle, and shopping destination in Hidalgo County,” Garcia said.

Garcia thanked DPS and the Rio Grande Valley legislative delegation for helping secure the driver’s license “mega center.” He pointed out that there are only 25 such centers in the state of Texas, with the nearest to the Valley being in Corpus Christi. “The center will bring us 68 new jobs. It helps advance the development of this corridor, which is so important.”

In his interview, Garcia noted a comment made by McAllen Mayor Jim Darling in his recent State of the City address – that, according to UT-Rio Grande Valley, something like 90 percent of all the new growth is going to be north of Highway 107. “McAllen is gearing up for this and we are gearing up,” Garcia said.

The interview with Garcia took place on the 750-acre La Sienna development. Just south of the DPS center is the Resaca Market project, which will combine retail, restaurant and commercial development. “The anchor for this will be Cinergy, a combination of Dave & Busters, the Main Event, plus a movie theater. It is a huge facility, occupying thousands of square feet. It will be major entertainment center and we are very excited about getting it. It is a big deal for Edinburg and the region.”

A reporter pointed out that the Cinergy entertainment project is all the more remarkable because there are not that many homes in north Edinburg. Garcia responded that the rooftops will follow.

“Believe me, the developers studied the area. This 750-acre development is a planned community, just like the Hunt Development in Sharyland. We have some property that our EDC (economic development corporation) acquired that was for an industrial park. But it ended up being too valuable for an industrial park. The Hunt’s had the same thing. They had home development, retail and industrial park off their property on Shary Road. This is what this is all about. They have 300 homes on this development and it is very nice.”

Mayor Garcia said that in addition to the development of the north-south I-69 Central corridor, an important east-west connector was being planned. “You have Tres Lagos at one end of Monte Cristo, and you have Monte Cristo punching all the way through to the new causeway for South Padre Island. This is going to be a very important corridor.”

Garcia was also asked to comment on a remark made by state Sen. Juan Hinojosa at the DPS groundbreaking event. Hinojosa said the McAllen-Edinburg-Mission area is projected to be the third fastest growing area in the nation. “I had heard we were fifth at one point. Third is exciting. I not heard that,” Garcia said. “This area is just getting rolling. I think everyone is now sold on the idea of working as a region. We saw that with UTRGV, that we were out in force as a unified region. We hope that makes a difference, both in Austin and Washington.”

DPS Driver License ‘Mega Center’

The DPS “mega center” is being built at the corner of Davis Road and I-69 Central. The center will feature advanced technology that provides driver license customers with the option of reserving a spot in line before arriving at the driver license office using their smart phone, landline, or computer. Reserving a spot in line before arriving significantly reduces the time customers have to spend in the office to receive services.

The new facility also will include space for class C driver license skills testing as well as two testing lanes for commercial driver license skills testing – a true asset for commercial motor vehicle drivers across the entire Rio Grande Valley. Commercial driver license applicants will be able to submit their application, take the written test and the road test all at this one new location.

Construction is expected to be complete by August of this year, at which time the driver’s license center will be operational.

Jose C. Rodriguez, III, regional commander for DPS, spoke at the groundbreaking ceremony. He said it was “awesome” to partner with the City of Edinburg. “I think if you do a Google search for partnership and you click on the images, there is bound to be the City of Edinburg logo on there,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez pointed out that DPS issues approximately six million drivers’ licenses and ID cards each year in Texas. He said that in 2016, drivers’ license officers in Hidalgo County completed nearly 162,000 transactions, 1,300 of which dealt with commercial vehicles. “The documents are so vital to our everyday activities. I can assure you we take our responsibility very seriously,” Rodriguez said.

“The bottom line is the additional customer capacity, the innovative technology, and the skill testing areas provided at this future site will ensure the community receives convenient and efficient services for many years to come. The Department of Public Safety is proud to be part of the Hidalgo County community.”

Another speaker at the groundbreaking ceremony was Michael Fallek, a partner in Vantage Ventures. Introducing, Fallek, Mayor Garcia said: “They (Vantage) have changed the face of much of our area, McAllen, Mission, Edinburg. We are very proud to have them coming forward to bring you this facility.”

In his remarks, Fallek said: “The La Sienna development has a lot of exciting things coming and we are excited to be on the north end of that development.” He thanked Edinburg EDC. “The development that has gone on along this 281 Corridor is impressive to see and we are excited to be a part of it.”

Sen. Hinojosa helped secure funding for the DPS project.

“Last session, we worked with the Legislature and DPS to ensure funding for a driver license mega center in Edinburg. For years, the Driver License Division lacked sufficient office capacity in Hidalgo County to meet today’s demand for driver license services,” Hinojosa said.

“With the ground-breaking today, the new facility will significantly increase our capacity in the Rio Grande Valley by 60,000 transactions per year and will decrease wait times at all our locations in the Valley. I thank our community leaders, local public officials, and DPS, who all had a strong commitment on working together to shorten waiting periods for driver license applicants. I was pleased to have been a part of these efforts to improve services to the public.”

Agustin “Gus” Garcia, executive director of Edinburg EDC, said he and his team have been working on the DPS project for the past one and a half years. “We are very excited about this project. We know it is going to bring a lot of jobs, sustainable and well-paid jobs, to this community. It is going to provide a service to this community,” Garcia said.