MISSION, RGV – The public and community stakeholders will be asked what they want to see included in a 3,400-acre development in Mission and McAllen.

Able City will conduct the workshops in January for Laredo-based Killam Development, which has acquired the land from Hunt Valley Development. The land, contained within the Shary Plantation, includes opportunity for commercial industrial development near the Anzalduas International Bridge.

“We want this to be a special place that people are proud of and excited about because they helped build it,” said Cliffe Killam, a partner at Killam Development.

‘This will be a hands-on design process. We will turn citizen-inspired ideas into a comprehensive vision that becomes reality, resulting in something bigger and better because we did it together.”

Killam gave the Rio Grande Guardian an in-depth interview at a recent news conference.

According to Killam, the property will be the site of a “large master planned development that will include places for people of all generations to live, work and play. It will include walkable neighborhoods, walking trails and park space, connections to entertainment and commercial districts and education centers.”

Cliffe Killam

Cliffe Killam said that while the initial groundbreaking on the 3,400 acres could come as early as next year, the entire project is something that is going to be developed over decades.

“We hope to develop all of it at some point. If we don’t develop it then we are more than happy to make land sales for other people to develop it,” he said.

Asked how much of the 3,400 acres would eventually be developed, Killam said: “I would think… I hate to given exact number because it is going to depend on the rate of absorption and what the community would like. We are also open to selling certain parcels to other folks to help accelerate. One group cannot do it alone. We are definitely excited to engage with all the local businesses and developers and entrepreneurs that are here in town.”

Anzalduas International Bridge

On the industrial side of things, Killam said his company is going to work actively with the economic development corporations of McAllen Mission EDC “to help bring additional investment by the Anzalduas Bridge, get some warehouses built, and help to create more jobs and investment, and make a lot of great things happen.”

Killam said that being next to Anzalduas International Bridge “adds another unique dynamic to the property.” He noted his company has developed industrial warehouses in Laredo and some properties in the Valley.

“That (Anzalduas International Bridge), was extremely appealing to us. We are huge advocates of International trade. We want the USMCA to get passed, and we think it will. Our understanding is that bridge will go commercial relatively soon. We are excited to see that happen. It is going to bring a lot of opportunities for the Rio Grande Valley.”

History of Killam Development

Killam Development is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. Cliffe Killam’s great grandfather started the family business, dabbling in oil and gas exploration and real estate, after moving to Laredo from Oklahoma. Oliver Winfield Killam was originally from a farming town in Missouri and worked at a lumber mill and in a zinc mine.

“He came down here and got lucky. He worked hard too,” Killam said of his great grandfather. “He settled in Laredo and passed away in 1959.”

Killam’s first venture into the Rio Grande Valley came in 2013 when the company acquired a number of industrial warehouses in the city of Hidalgo.

“We now have a pretty significant position in the Sharyland Industrial Park,” Killam said. “From there we just continued to have good rapport and be impressed by community leaders here and said, this is really a place where we would like to make a long term commitment.”

The acquisition of the Hunt property is testament to that, Killam argued.

“We are going to develop this over a long period of time. The Hunt family had owned this property since the 70’s. We are committed to having a long-term vision here and to seeing this through and doing it in a responsible way and doing it in a way that the whole community will be proud of. It will be representative of their vision.”

Having been based in Laredo for 100 years, Killam Development fully understands the life on the border, Cliffe Killam said.

“We have a lot of great relationships along the border and in Mexico. We feel we understand the place and so we are excited about it.”

Public workshops

Asked about the public workshops, Killam said: “Our big push is to listen to the Rio Grande Valley and see what they want. Based off of that, help to deliver on that. Then, of course, we hope if we deliver on that. The folks are going to want to live there and work there and go shopping there, and have fun and bring their families, what kind of park space do they want? What kind of public art do they want? What kind of cycling, running? What kind of a restaurant area do they want to have.”

Killam said his company is committed to developing the 3,400 acres in a fashion that has buy-in from the local community.

“We want this to be representative of what the public wants. What do they want to see? This is, I think, a unique opportunity to really engage in sharing their ideas. Everyone is invited (to the public workshops). We will have a lot of targeted constituencies as well, whether it be education or art, or more family-oriented, cyclists, runners, eleven leaders, restaurants, entertainment.”

Killam urged the general public to attend the upcoming workshops in order to share their ideas. He said some members of the public may have been on vacation to Chicago or St. Louis and seen something they believe would work well in the Valley.

“It is a chance for folks to say, why can’t we have that here? We want to help facilitate some of that by listening to folks and saying, come and share your ideas, things you have seen on your travels, whether in the U.S. or internationally and let’s bring about those ideas and see how we can get some of these things accomplished. It is a unique opportunity for folks to come in and participate and help to create the community they want.”

Valley’s growth

Asked what the acquisition of the 3,400 acres says about the attraction of the Valley as a whole for investors, Killam said:

“The Rio Grande Valley metroplex is quite a large population and, of course, you have a large community on the Mexican side, and, obviously the folks in Monterrey that have property here. All of that got our attention but a lot of it also had to do with, we were really imposed with he city leaders in McAllen and Mission. They have welcomed us and it is very easy to do business here and very quick to get things done. We were very impressed by that.”

Killam reiterated how impressed he is with the local city and economic development leaders his company is dealing with. “We were really imposed with the city leaders we were working with. That was refreshing and it was a big part of our decision to make a long term commitment here.”

Asked for a few wrap-up remarks, Cliffe Killam said: “We are excited to be here. We appreciate all the support we have gotten and the ongoing goodwill we have received.”

Editor’s Note: The above story is the third in a four-part series on Killam Development’s 3,400-acre master-planned project for Mission/McAllen. Click here to read and listen to Part One. Click here to read Part Two. Part Four will be published in our next edition.