PEÑITAS, Texas – There is more development coming to the city of Peñitas, over and above the big new Liberty Corners retail project.

That is the prediction of Peñitas City Manager Humberto ‘Beto’ Garza, who says the catalyst for the growth is the long-anticipation La Joya bypass.

“The La Joya bypass is a tremendous opportunity for everybody within the city limits,” Garza said. “We have some major announcements coming in the near future. Some major retail, commercial, and multi-family housing projects in the works. We cannot announce any of it yet but it is a bright, bright, future for our area.”

New housing development was teased on a sign promoting Liberty Corners at a recent groundbreaking ceremony for the project. Asked about the new housing, Garza said: “We have got several developers looking at developing multi-family complexes and single-family residences. We have got several developments in the works.”

Liberty Corners is a big retail project being developed by Dallas-based St. Ives Realty on the corner of Expressway 83 and Liberty Boulevard. The first national chains to be announced are Chick-fil-A, Wendy’s and a Stripes.

(Editor’s Note: Click here to read the commentary of James Gissler, a partner with St. Ives Realty.)

Garza said the Liberty Corners has been in the works for the past two years. He said the three-phase project, which will include a hotel, should be complete within three years.  

Humberto ‘Beto’ Garza

“That is going to lead to a lot of jobs for our residents and our community. We are looking at over 200-plus jobs,” Garza said. “We are looking at some restaurants, some major franchises, we have got a hotel coming with about 60 to 90 beds, and some real nice other retail developments.”

Garza said a Liberty Corners-type project has been needed for many years. 

“This is only a stepping stone for this great city. We are moving forward and this is only the first step. I can see this project stimulating the whole area. Peñitas is basically the center of the west side of Hidalgo County. We have La Joya and Sullivan to the west and Palmview and Mission to the east. Basically we are the center city for the western part of the county. To our north we have a lot of homes outside of the city that come within our ETJ, tens of thousands of people and development out there. They will come shop and eat in the city of Peñitas.”

ETJ stands for extra Extra Territorial Jurisdiction.

Garza said the tax base of the City of Peñitas will, obviously, grow once Liberty Corners is up and running. 

“The revenue this project is going to bring in is going to be substantial. The development is going to open the door for our tax revenue to go up and it is going to help us provide better services for our constituents within the city limits. It will help us hire a few more police officers, which the community wants. It makes us more stable.”

In his exclusive interview with the Rio Grande Guardian International News Service, Garza also spoke about a big development happening on the south side of Expressway 83, across from Denny’s. 

“We are talking to some developers, they are asking some questions. They have some pretty good plans for the city,” Garza said of this project.

Asked why things are looking up, Garza said: “The population growth within the last few years in this part of Hidalgo County has exploded. It goes back to the last census. It has just grown. We have a tremendous number of people surrounding our city, in the county. Our families keep growing. That is what is bringing in the development.”

Garza paid tribute to Hidalgo County Drainage District No. 1 for its investment in his city. “The county drainage district has invested a lot of money, which we needed for the Liberty Corners project. That investment helps our development, not only in the city but the rural areas around here.”

Asked what the residents of Peñitas thinks of all the development, Garza said: “Our community is extremely excited. We are excited, we are grateful, we are ready for more. Any development company that wants to move into the city of Peñitas or the surrounding areas will be welcome with open arms.”

Asked for any wrap-up remarks, Garza said: “The city of Peñitas is open for business. We are open for families to move here. We welcome them with open arms. It is a new day for Peñitas and the western side of Hidalgo County.”

Council Member Jose R. Flores

Jose R. Flores is Peñitas City Council member for Place 4. He attended the Liberty Corners groundbreaking ceremony.

“This is the catalyst for development in the other cities in western Hidalgo County. We are very excited. The expectations are there from our community,” Flores said.

“We now have the drainage and the utilities in place so these are exciting times. It is like virgin land, if you like. We could not have done this without the help of the county and the drainage district.”

Asked about the housing projects coming to his city, Flores said: “There is one with 180 lots. We have the space, the land.”

Flores added: “The best part about this is our citizens will not have to travel to Mission and McAllen. I can see a gym coming soon, for those who want to do daily workouts. That saves on gas and the money stays in the community.”

Mayor Pro Tem Ramiro Loya

Mayor Pro Tem Ramiro Loya represents Place 3 on Peñitas City Council.

“All this development could not happen without the strong foundation of leaders we have here. We are well known as the oldest settlement in Texas, if not the United States, dating back to 1520. We are very proud of that,” Loya said.

“I particularly like the widening of Liberty all the way to 3 Mile Line and then on to107. That is going to spur more development. We are getting the best and we do not have to go anywhere for it. That is the best part. We have a Blue Wave car wash coming. We have Denny’s. We have Walmart. It is looking good for Peñitas. We have a lot of land and we are going to fill it up.”

Hidalgo County Commissioner Everado Villarreal

Hidalgo County Commissioner Everado Villarreal represents the western portion of Hidalgo County. Villarreal said he was proud of the leadership in Peñitas.

“Peñitas is one of the cities the county has invested the most in. We need to work together so that projects like this comes to the other cities,” he said.

Asked how big an investment has been made, Villarreal said: “About $27 million by the drainage district and $3.5 million from my office. This is allowing us to expand Liberty all the way to 3 Mile Line. Then we will continue to 7 Mile Line. We are widening the street so it becomes four lanes.”

Villarreal added: “I want to thank the drainage district. It has done an amazing job. Big companies know there will not be flooding and that is why they are investing here. This (Liberty Corners) is huge. It takes a lot of dedication. I want to help other cities in the western part of the county. If we do not unite, nothing is going to happen. They can flourish like Peñitas.”

Hidalgo County Drainage District No. 1

Raul Sesin is general manager of Hidalgo County Drainage District No. 1. He said that of the $27.3 million the drainage district has invested in Peñitas, $5 million has come from the General Land Office, with the remaining $22.5 coming from drainage district, bond money and local funds. 

“Before our project there was nothing here. We have created the new drainage system so that this development can take place.”

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