MCALLEN, Texas – The City of McAllen has purchased 1,288 acres of farmland northwest of its city limit boundary in readiness for projected industrial and commercial development.

Details were unveiled to the public for the first time by McAllen City Commissioner Joaquin “J.J.” Zamora in a video produced for the Mayor Javier Villalobos’ State of the City address.

Zamora stated in the video: “When McAllen raised record revenue from our retail partners in 2022 we chose to reinvest that prosperity into our city’s future. We are proud to announce that in 2022, we laid the groundwork for the largest acquisition of land in McAllen’s long history. This historic growth initiative was met by acquiring 1,288 acres of land to meet McAllen’s need for industrial growth and future expansion. More public land will mean more room to grow, build and create a better future for our city. Room to open more green spaces, parks and trails for active living. Room for state of the art facilities that meet our community’s growing needs. Room for infrastructure that connects residents to public services, and improves our quality of life and room for public projects and industrial partnerships to drive McAllen’s economic growth today, tomorrow, and for years to come. The power of McAllen’s prosperity to raise the quality of life for our residents is why 2022 was the year for long term investment in McAllen’s future.”

As soon as Mayor Javier Villalobos had concluded his State of the City address, the Rio Grande Guardian International News Service secured an exclusive interview with Zamora (pictured above). 

“Okay, so it’s approximately 1,288 acres. A very large portion of it is located just south of FM 490 and Moore Field Road. That’s part of a strategic property acquisition that will allow for more industrial and commercial development,” Zamora said.

“As you may or may not know the properties off Military Highway in south McAllen have already pretty much been built out and the rest belongs to private developers. So, the city, always wanting to be one step ahead of the game, made this investment for our future, in the hopes that when the day comes that we have a loop go around Hidalgo County, we’ll have property there to allow for trucking and other logistics facilities, manufacturing and warehousing.”

Zamora said thus far that has been very little media coverage of the land acquisition. “Up until now it has pretty much been an executive session item which is open for PIR now.”

PIR stands for public information request.

Asked if the cost of purchasing the land has been made public, Zamora said: “No it hasn’t and to be honest, I don’t remember how much it was. But, it was several million dollars.”

Zamora explained how the purchase came about. 

“We came across an opportunity where there was actually a farm owner, a landowner who was interested in selling. And so it was just an opportunity that we couldn’t pass up. We had to take advantage of it.”

Zamora said the land is not within the McAllen city limits. 

“The land is in the McAllen ETJ (extra-territorial jurisdiction), so, under state law, home rule cities like McAllen have the power to kind of control where things are going to go and what planning takes place. Not to the full extent, like rezoning and all that, but enough to where we can actually make acquisitions of property that will at some point in the future come within the city boundaries. So, while that property is not within our city limits, it is within the extra-territorial jurisdiction, or ETJ, of McAllen.”

Zamora reiterated that the land has been purchased in anticipation of industrial development. 

“We don’t anticipate much residential or retail development there because we really want to be able to conceivably have a rail line, to make it multimodal, where you have, maybe, a crossing, who knows, from Madero coming in from Monterrey. It might drop off a load onto a Freightliner and then you take it on the interstate heading north. So that’s that’s kind of the concept that we’re looking at.”

Zamora said the purchase of the 1,288 acres shows vision by city leaders.

“With this particular purchase, I look at it as being as important as when the City of McAllen purchased the rights to the Hidalgo-Reynosa Bridge. That’s how important it is. The bridge has obviously been a revenue generator for decades for the City of McAllen. And we anticipate that this property acquisition will do the same.”

The Guardian also interviewed Mayor Villalobos about the land acquisition. 

“I think it is no secret we are running out of land in our southern area, especially for manufacturing, for commercial development, and that sort of thing. So yes, we are looking at purchasing in the northwest, and that’s where the (manufacturing and logistics) area is going to be. We are going to keep on growing, we’re going to keep on developing, still going up like a rocket,” Villalobos said.

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