MISSION, RGV – The executive director of Mission Economic Development Corporation says Killam Development’s acquisition of approximately 3,400 acres of land in Mission and McAllen will lead to an “explosion of growth” in the area.

Daniel Silva was heavily involved in the discussions that led to the company’s decision to purchase land on the Shary Plantation from Hunt Development. Laredo-based Killam plans to build a master-planned community, with a mixture of residential, retail, commercial and industrial developments.

Most of the land is in Mission but some of it is in McAllen. It borders the Anzalduas International Bridge, which is co-owned by the cities of Mission, McAllen, and Granjeno.

“This is an exciting day for Mission and the entire area. I think the region is going to benefit tremendously from this development,” Silva told the Rio Grande Guardian, following a news conference hosted by Killam to announce the acquisition.

“We are going to see a lot of improvements that we have been waiting for, for a long time. There has been six years of time where we have not seen the growth that we saw in the first ten,” Silva said.

“I believe Killam has the energy and the capability to do something that will really change the region.”

Part of the Shary Plantation acquired by Killam Development from Hunt Development.

Silva was asked what Killam’s decision to acquire such a large parcel of land tells other investors about the potential of the Rio Grande Valley.

“It shows that the demand is there,” Silva said. “They (Killam) see it because they have seen other regions in Texas (grow). They have been focused on the Valley, they just did not have an opportunity yet. They own over a million square feet of industrial space already in Sharyland Business Park. So, they are familiar with us already.”

Asked to elaborate on the Valley’s potential for growth, Silva said: “What it shows to us is that the Valley is ready for this boom.”

Silva noted that a lot of national chains have looked at the Valley as place to open restaurants and stores.

“Every single one that comes into the area, they were hesitant at the beginning based on demographics. It did not make sense based on their models. But, when they come down here they knock it out of the park,” Silva said, citing the impact of Mexican visitors and the Valley’s culture.

“So, when a national chain comes down it blows their expectations out of the water. Killam is trying to take advantage of that, trying to develop an area that will cater to that and my prediction is we will see a lot more nationals come down.”

Asked why Mission has not been growing as fast over the past six or seven years, as compared to the ten years previous, Silva said:

“We had the downshift in the economy and we had Hunt looking at other projects. Remember, they purchased it (the Shary Plantation) as a farming area. Agriculture is still a big part of us. They knew that and were catering to that.”

Now, however, Mission is poised for rapid growth again, the EDC leader believes.

“From the plans that we are looking at and what they are talking about doing, we are going to have very explosive growth again. Very much like, if not faster than what Hunt did in those first ten years,” Silva said.

“The population growth in Mission from 2000 to 2010 jumped up by something like 80 percent. We went from a population of 40,000 to 70,000. It was huge growth, largely thanks to Hunt and the 2,500 residential lots developed. All of that happened in those first ten years.”

Silva said he and his economic development team have been working on the Killam project for the last eight or nine months. He said he would have liked to have told people about it sooner but was constrained by the terms of the negotiations.

A key aspect of the development plans, Silva said, is asking the local community for input.

“We are going to involve the community. I am really pleased we are doing that. The community is going to have direct input into what they do,” Silva said.

“Remember, Hunt had a masterplan when they developed the plantation. Killam are taking that and modernizing it, looking at what the current trends are, what the needs are. They are going to incorporate retail, they are going to incorporate commercial. There is going to be industrial. There will be a lot of residential. I think they are going to make this an area where everything that you need is going to be located in this community, just as you see with a lot of these well-thought out, master-planned communities. They have that experience it and they expect it for this area also.”

Silva pointed out that the City of Mission and its economic development corporation has been laying the groundwork for projects as big as Killam’s for a number of years.

“We have been laying infrastructure through our tax increment reinvestment zone. So, we were preparing the land for when Hunt activated their projects – knowing it was going to be in phases – or when a new developer like this came in. We wanted to be ready for them, infrastructure-wise.”

By way of example, Silva noted that Anzalduas Highway, formally known as Bryan Road, south of I-2 is built to interstate standards.

“There are three miles, north-south, of expressway frontage where we hoped to see a lot of development, which we had high ambitions for.”

Hunt first purchased the Sharyland Plantation in the 1970s, initially for agricultural use. Asked how much of the plantation would now be developed by Killam, Silva said: “Basically, anything and everything we have known as Hunt, except what they have sold off, to the property owners that have purchased houses and the industrial tenants that have purchased their buildings. Everything outside of that, Killam will own.”

Silva said the plan is for housing developers to come in and work with Killam on build a large number of lots. “Going down to $140,000 is going to make it very accessible to a lot of individuals,” he said.

Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above news story shows Daniel Silva, executive director of Mission Economic Development Corporation, pointing to a map that shows where Killam Development’s project in Mission and McAllen will be located.

Editor’s Note: The above news story is the second in a four-part series on Killam Development’s master-planned project in Mission and McAllen. Click here to read and listen to Part One. Part Three, featuring the views of Cliff Killam will be posted in our next edition.