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Construction surging in Edinburg

Mayor Pro Tem Elías Longoria, Jr., featured left, a former member of the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation Board of Directors, and Francisco Fernández, M.D., the founding Dean of The University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine.

Photograph by MARK MONTEMAYOR

Mayor Pro Tem Elías Longoria, Jr., featured left, a former member of the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation Board of Directors, and Francisco Fernández, M.D., the founding Dean of The University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine, reflect on the economic and medical care impact of the $54 million Medical Education Building during a Tuesday, August 26, 2014 groundbreaking ceremony at UT-Pan American. Construction activities in Edinburg during the past 23 months, based on the value of the work listed in the required building permits issued by the city’s Code Enforcement Department, have reached more than $236 million between January 2013 and November 2014. The city’s $236 million figure does not include the value of three new major facilities and their furnishings and equipment at The University of Texas-Pan American, worth almost $140 million, which were approved for construction during the past two years by The UT System Board of Regents. Already opened, or approved for funding since January 2013, are $135.9 million for new facilities at the Edinburg university campus – a $70 million science building annex, a $54 million medical education building, and a $11.9 million student academic center. UT-Pan American, which will be renamed UT-Rio Grande Valley next August, is a state entity, so the city does not issue building permits or include the value of any construction at the university campus in the data put together by Edinburg’s Code Enforcement Department. If it did, total construction activities during the past two years in Edinburg would approach $376 million. The EEDC, led by Mayor Richard García as the President of the EEDC Board of Directors, is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg City Council.

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Construction in Edinburg and UT-Pan American during past two years is approaching $376 million, reports EEDC

By DAVID A. DÍAZ
Legislativemedia@aol.com

Construction activities in Edinburg during the past 23 months, based on the value of the work listed in the required building permits issued by the city’s Code Enforcement Department, have reached more than $236 million between January 2013 and November 2014, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation has announced.

The building permit includes the estimated value of the work, but does not include the price of the land, or furnishings or equipment in the facility.

The EEDC is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg City Council.

The city’s $236 million figure also does not include the value of three new major facilities and their furnishings and equipment at The University of Texas-Pan American, worth almost $140 million, which were approved for construction during the past two years by The UT System Board of Regents.

If it did, total construction activities during the past two years in Edinburg would approach $376 million.

UT-Pan American, which will be renamed UT-Rio Grande Valley next August, is a state entity, so the city does not issue building permits or include the value of any construction at the university campus in the data put together by Edinburg’s Code Enforcement Department.

In general, a building permit is legal permission given by the City of Edinburg to erect, construct, renovate, maintain, or conduct any other specified activity on any building or structure, or on any installations or facilities therein. The term “building permit” includes but is not limited to building permits, electrical permits, mechanical permits, and plumbing permits.

A final accounting of construction activities for Edinburg for all of 2013 and 2014, based on the building permits issued by the Code Enforcement Department, should be available by mid-January, when the December 2014 monthly report is calculated and made public.

These most recent construction figures are milestones in recent history for the city and the university.

EDINBURG HELPING LEAD VALLEY’S ECONOMIC GROWTH

Mayor Richard García, who also serves as President of the Board of Directors for the EEDC, says Edinburg continues to help lead a major economic revival for deep South Texas, revealing more positive news is on the horizon for his city.

“Economic policies, legislative strategies, proven financial incentives which always protect the local taxpayers, and a vision worthy of our city – all which are put forth and approved by the Edinburg City Council and the EEDC Board of Directors – play vital roles in our city’s successes,” said García.

But, the mayor emphasized “the most valuable asset we have, by far, are the people of Edinburg. They are one of the main reasons businesses closely study when deciding whether to expand or relocate in any city.”

Agustín “Gus” García, Executive Director for the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, noted that based on the city’s building permits, new commercial construction and new construction of single-family homes led the way during the past 23 months. But alterations and remodeling of existing structures also represented tens of millions of dollars in construction activities since January 2013.

“All across the board, Edinburg saw strong, positive growth in construction, with new businesses and new single-family homes leading the way,” said Gus García, who is not related to the mayor.
“If we go back one more year, to 2012, total construction in Edinburg that year was valued at $100 million.”

The EEDC Executive Director said such data “speak volumes about the leadership and the people of Edinburg. This is no accident, and it has come about through a series of collaborative efforts by the mayor and city council and the EEDC Board of Directors.”

Gus García added that such key data “is the type of information the EEDC uses to bring more businesses and jobs to our city.”

NEW $50 MILLION UT-RGV ENGINEERING COMPLEX IN EDINBURG BEING PROPOSED

Regarding the soon-to-be renamed UT-RGV, area legislators are working with other state lawmakers to help secure passage of a bill by Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, which would authorize funding for a $50 million Interdisciplinary Engineering and Academic Studies complex at the Edinburg campus.

The UT System Board of Regents, meeting in Austin on Thursday, July 10, approved a proposal to ask state lawmakers in the coming months to authorize $42.5 million in tuition revenue bonds to help pay for construction of the $50 million Interdisciplinary Engineering and Academic Studies Building at the Edinburg campus of UT-Rio Grande Valley.

The measure, Senate Bill 21, was prefiled on Monday, November 10, for action by the Texas Legislature during its regular session, which takes place from mid-January through the end of May.

The $50 million Interdisciplinary Engineering and Academic Studies Building would be built on the campus quad – its open-air courtyard – west of the Edinburg campus’ main library.

“This project (Interdisciplinary Engineering and Academic Studies Building in Edinburg) would create an additional 124,304 GSF (gross square feet) with 80,798 assignable square feet of much needed space. The spaces will include a large lecture auditorium with a 250-seat capacity, several 150-seat lecture halls, 60-seat classrooms, and faculty offices,” according to a UT System synopsis of the project. “The project will also include an outdoor pavilion to be used as a gathering area and study space to relieve pressure on more expensive indoor space and also to support academic events.”

Gus García said the EEDC and the Edinburg City Council would continue to be champions for UT-RGV and its UT medical school, not only before the UT System Board of Regents, but also at the state legislative levels.

“We know the legislative system in Austin, we benefit from an outstanding state legislative delegation, and we have friends and allies in key places in the UT System,” the EEDC Executive Director explained. “We will be partners in the continuing transformation of UT-RGV into a university of the first-class.”

$135.9 MILLION UT-RGV PROJECTS IN EDINBURG APPROVED FOR FUNDING OVER PAST TWO YEARS

But already opened, or approved for funding since January 2013, are $135.9 million worth of new facilities at the Edinburg university campus – a $70 million science building annex, a $54 million medical education building, and an $11.9 million student academic center.

During a Tuesday, November 18 dedication ceremony, led by Dr. Havidán Rodríguez, UT-Pan American’s Interim President, the 46,000-square-foot $11.9 million Student Academic Center became the first new building constructed on the campus since 2007.

“The idea is to make this place (Student Academic Center) the hub for student engagement and experiential learning. We know for a fact that the students involved in those initiatives have higher probabilities of being retained at the university and graduating from the university,” said Rodríguez, who also serves on the EEDC Board of Directors. “This is what this building is designed to do – to ensure that students at UT-Pan American and at The University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley come here and to the Brownsville campus to have these types of experiences and are successful.”

The dream of South Texans to be viewed as an equal partner in the growth of Texas took a $124 million step forward a year earlier, on Thursday, November 14, 2013, when the UT System Board of Regents unanimously approved the construction of the $54 million science building annex and the $74 million medical education building at UT-Pan American.

The UT medical school building is being built by Schunior Street, immediately north of the UT Regional Academic Health Medical Research Facility.

The medical education building, an 88,000 gross square-foot complex, will be devoted to promoting faculty and student interaction at the earliest stages of medical school. The building will include an auditorium, digital library, clinical skills center, preclinical laboratories and an anatomy teaching facility.

The medical education building will make extensive use of online and distance learning as part of a region-wide medical school interacting with and complementing facilities at Harlingen and Brownsville as well as supporting continuing professional education in the region. The plan is designed to complete the building in time to achieve the ambitious goal of matriculating the first medical school class in the Summer/Fall 2016.

The science building annex is vital since it will provide the academic skills, equipment, and laboratories to prepare UTPA students to attend and succeed in the planned UT medical school in Edinburg.

NEW COMMERCIAL AND RESIDENTIAL FACILITIES REPRESENT LION’S SHARE OF CITY BUILDING PERMITS

From January through November 2014, building permits valued at $113,150,790 were issued, while for all of 2013, building permits valued at $123,273,090 were approved. For 2012, total construction activities were valued at $100,406,474, based on the building permits.

The top categories for construction from January to November 2014 were:

• $33,733,395.00 – Commercial New Construction;
• $31,620,805.00 – Single-Family Residences New Construction;
• $18,154,320.00 – Non-Taxable New Alterations (government, religious);
• $13,580,609.00 – Commercial Alterations;
• $11,195,249.00 – Multi-Family Residences New Construction; and
• $4,751,412.00 – Residential Alterations.

From January through November 2014, 256 new single-family homes and 56 multi-family residences, ranging from duplexes to five or more units, were issued building permits.

The top categories for construction for all of 2013 were:

• $38,747,259.00 – Commercial New Construction;
• $33,272,800.00 – Single-Family Residences New Construction;
• $20,636,541.00 – Commercial Alterations;
• $14,202,952.00 – Multi-Family Residences New Construction;
• $6,188,706.00 – Residential Alterations; and
• $5,765,001.00 – Non-Taxable New Alterations (government, religious).

For all of 2013, 308 new single-family homes and 93 multi-family residences, ranging from duplexes to five or more units, were issued building permits.

The top categories for construction for all of 2012 were:

• $32,o29,216.00 – Single-Family Residences New Construction;
• $28,295,722.00 – Commercial New Construction;
• $15,931,768.00 – Commercial Alterations;
• $15,396,590.00 – Multi-Family Residences New Construction;
• $4,643,478.00 – Non-Taxable New Alterations (government, religious); and
• $4,109,700.00 – Residential Alterations.

For all of 2012, 632 new single-family homes and 76 multi-family residences, ranging from duplexes to five or more units, were issued building permits.

HIGHLIGHTS OF NOVEMBER 2014 BUILDING PERMITS ISSUED BY CITY

Total construction activities for the month of November 2014 was $4,063,025.00 – not counting any UT-RGV investments – as compared with $12,608,986 during November 2013.

The top categories for construction for November 2014, were:

• $1,945,825.00 – Single-Family Residences New Construction;
• $1,085,000.00 – Multi-Family Residences New Construction;
• $643,340.00 – Commercial New Construction;
• $195,285.00 – Residential Alterations;
• $157,775.00 – Commercial Alterations; and
• $35,800.00 – Non-Taxable New Alterations (government, religious).

For November 2014, 11 new single-family homes and seven multi-family residences, ranging from duplexes to five or more units, were issued building permits.

The top categories for construction for November 2013 were:

• $5,390,339.00 – Commercial Alterations;
• $4,208,509.00 – Single-Family Residences New Construction;
• $2,115,000.00 – Commercial New Construction;
• $516,428.00 – Non-Taxable New Alterations (government, religious);
• $378,710.00 – Residential Alterations; and
• $0 – Multi-Family Residences New Construction.

For November 2013, 32 new single-family homes were issued building permits. There were no multi-family residences, ranging from duplexes to five or more units, authorized for construction by the city that month.

NOVEMBER 2014 CITY BUILDING PERMITS, $100,000 AND HIGHER

Single-Family Residences New Construction:

For November 2014, there were eight single-family residences, valued at $100,000 or higher (not including the price of the lot), which were issued building permits by the city.

Those building permits follow by value of the construction, name of the owner(s,), address, and subdivision:

• $465,000.00 – Movcad Alsabbagh, 4922 Sheffield Street, Bentley Estates;
• $295,000.00 – Saúl Salinas, 2102 East Rogers Road, Tex-Mex;
• $234,905.00 – Cantú Construction, 4714 Oxford Street, Bentley Estates;
• $175,000.00 – Lord I. González, 5010 Juno Ct., Summerset Estates;
• $168,025.00 – Infinity Custom Construction LLC, 5112 Nevis Drive, Summerset Estates;
• $169,785.00 – McKenny Glenn Inc., 1906 Majella Street, Valencia Ph. 1, Sect. II;
• $150,000.00 – Homero and Mirna Lozoya, 3416 Granada Street, Sevilla Grande; and
• $148,775.00 – Infiniti Custom Construction LLC, 5108 Nevis Drive, Summerset Estates.

Commercial New Construction:

For November 2014, there were two new commercial construction projects, valued at $100,000 or higher, which were issued building permits by the city.

Those building permits follow by value of the construction, name of the owner(s,), address, and subdivision:

• $473,340,00 – Doctor’s Hospital at Renaissance, 1601 East Sprague; and
• $170,000.00 – Kaster Commercial Group, 1513 S. McColl Road, West Meadows Plaza.

Multi-Family Residences New Construction:

• $400,000.00 – Jaime Curts, 1121 W. Cano Street, West Addition;
• $310,000.00 – María Esquinca, 3613 Zelma, Monmack Terrace #2;
• $200,000.00 – José Ángel Alanís De La Fuente, 515 Lotto Lane, Torres Del Sol, Ph. 1; and
• $175,000.00 – Alfredo Barrera, 2021 Bahamas Drive, Paradise Estates.

RETAIL ECONOMY, EMPLOYMENT CONTINUE POSITIVE SHOWINGS

In related positive news, Edinburg’s unemployment rate for November 2014 was 5.5 percent, the best showing in the city for that month since November 2008 (5.2 percent), and the second-best figure for all cities in November 2014 in the Rio Grande Valley, the Texas Workforce Commission announced on Friday, December 19.

In November 2014, there were 34,104 persons employed in Edinburg, compared with 33,892 during October 2o14, according to TWC, which is the state agency charged with overseeing and providing workforce development services to employers and job-seekers in Texas.

Meanwhile, according to another independent source – the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts – Edinburg’s retail economy for the month of October 2014 was more than nine percent stronger than the same period last year, while year-to-date, it was almost 12 percent better than the same 10-month period last year.

From January through October 2014, Edinburg also continued to outperform the majority of cities in Texas in the rate of improvement.

The average of all Texas cities’ retail showings from January through October 2014 was up 7 percent over the same 10-month period in 2013, compared with Edinburg’s 11.73 percent improvement during the same period last year, according to the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.

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