Small Texas city repurposes historic school as an arts/culture center & creates new park via their $23 million downtown revitalization

On August 18, 2021 in Texas, the Edinburg City Council approved the issuance of a $23 million Certificates of Obligation (CO) bonds. CO CO’s are similar to General Obligation (GO) bonds, except that they do not require voter approval before they are issued. COs are also guaranteed by the city’s taxation power, and are counted in the calculation of the tax rate that is needed to support debt payments.

The bonds are dedicated to several major downtown improvement and revitalization projects in Edinburg (population 75,000).

The future Edinburg Arts, Culture, Events Center (A.C.E.) will be a 45,000 square foot multi-purpose facility will serve as a downtown venue to host local conferences, cultural art exhibits, live performances, classes and community events.

The facility will also serve as City Hall Annex housing several administrative and department offices. The intent of this $14 million project is to expand and renovate the site of the historic 1920’s Sam Houston Elementary School building, located at 315 W McIntyre Street, so that it may feature local artists, host family-friendly cultural events, and conventions for residents and to attract more visitors to the city by creating a downtown entertainment area devoted to the arts.

This is something that is going to be huge for the city. It’s going to make Edinburg a destination site because there isn’t another place like it in the Valley,” said Edinburg Mayor Richard Molina during the city council meeting.

The A.C.E. Center will be constructed on a 5-acre downtown block newly dubbed “Promenade Park” along the City’s McIntyre Promenade. Promenade Park will feature an outdoor Amphitheater, interactive water garden, meandering sculpture garden, and other greenspace amenities.

This park and greenspace will be the centerpiece of Edinburg, hosting large festivals and events; providing an urban oasis rivaling those of much larger cities,” said Edinburg City Manager, Ron Garza.

The City is set to break ground on phase one, including the amphitheater and water gardens next month.

Another project funded by these bonds is a downtown parking facility. The City of Edinburg will construct a $10 million, three-story parking garage with ground-level, mixed-use retail space to provide shopping and parking spaces for the greater downtown area including Hidalgo County Courthouse and Promenade Park area along McIntyre Promenade.

This project was in partnership with Hidalgo County Commissioners who met Thursday morning to convey property to the City of Edinburg to develop this multi-story parking garage.

Additional infrastructure improvements in the amount of $8M will expand streets, acquire certain right-of-ways, as well as downtown beautification improving sidewalks, lighting, and signage.

These projects, meant to reinvigorate the downtown Edinburg economy while improving existing infrastructure, would not be possible without the partnership and ongoing support of the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, which has committed $9 million in funding to revitalize the downtown area.

The EDC board rallied around downtown as a signature project for our first year. We felt it would be a catalyst and entice businesses to relocate to downtown Edinburg. $9M is a large sum; however, we felt the amount was needed to make sure the project was done correctly for all future phases of development,” said Edinburg Economic Development Corporation Board President Hiren Govind.

Most importantly, the City of Edinburg would like to reassure its citizens that these certificates of obligation for the downtown revitalization projects will not increase city taxes or affect the cost of city services for residents.

Our focus as a city has been on improving the quality of life of our residents. The community has been wanting something like this for years and the fact that we’re able to develop and create an entertainment/arts district within our downtown at no additional cost to the taxpayer-that’s incredible,” concluded Mayor Molina.

With continued double-digit growth in property and sales taxes revenues, bonds will be repaid exclusively via this revenue growth.

Rendering courtesy of City of Edinburg.

See City of Edinburg website.

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