UPDATE…UPDATE… John Toic, president of The Shoppes at RGV, Sets the Record Straight on the Proposed Courthouse

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Pictured above, John Toic, president of The Shoppes at Rio Grande Valley. Photo archive by Roberto Hugo Gonzalez

Texas Border Business

UPDATE, UPDATE….John Toic, president of First Hartford Realty sent a letter to the Honorable Judge Ramon Garcia regarding the Hidalgo County Courthouse as a follow up to the Press Release sent Tuesday of this week. Read Letter below.

Last week, in a letter to Mayor Richard Molina, as reported by The Monitor, County Judge Ramon Garcia asked the City of Edinburg to commit $30 million dollars to help build a new, long-overdue county courthouse. The report noted that in the letter, Judge Garcia said all other options for the courthouse had been considered, and that the county had completed months of discussions with potential partnerships including First Hartford Realty, the developer of The Shoppes at Rio Grande Valley, which offers an alternate site for the courthouse.

John Toic, president of The Shoppes at Rio Grande Valley is now setting the record straight. According to him, while the organization had a brief discussion with Hidalgo County Judge Ramon Garcia almost five years ago, there was no meaningful discussion with First Hartford Realty about the new County Courthouse.

Mr. Toic also pointed out that it was clear from that discussion that Judge Garcia had already made up his mind about where he wanted to build the courthouse. Today, he says that First Hartford Realty proposes an alternative location at The Shoppes at Rio Grande Valley, located at the intersection of Highway 281 and Trenton, that could be accomplished quickly and more affordably than the current project by way of a public/private partnership.

“While there is still time, we encourage that alternative plans for the courthouse be considered in terms of location, price, and financing for the benefit of the public and the project.” In addition he said, “Over the last several years we have been developing a plan that will provide the County those options, and we believe it is time to allow those options to be explored,” said Mr. Toic, President of First Hartford Realty.

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It is known that the current courthouse plan comes at an estimated cost of $150 million. Mr. Toic believes that cost can be greatly reduced, and that a public-private solution can lessen the financial burden to taxpayers. In addition, Toic points out that the current downtown site is both small and land-locked, limiting future potential growth.

“A potential site that provides ample parking, responsible drainage, and encourages current and long term economic growth for the County would be the best site for Hidalgo County’s new courthouse,” he told Texas Border Business.

Mr. Toic also said that recently The Monitor, McAllen’s daily newspaper conducted a community poll asking whether Hidalgo County should stick with the plan to build the new courthouse on the current courthouse square or explore other options. “An overwhelming 75% voted that the county should explore options for a new location,” he finalized.

Hidalgo County Judge Ramon Garcia, told Texas Border Business that The Shoppes at Rio Grande Valley site was not a feasible location for financing and that a partnership was illegal.

According to Garcia, they asked former District Attorney Rene Guerra for an opinion and the response came back that a partnership was illegal.

Texas Border Business called Mr. Guerra and he said, “Ramon asked our office for an opinion, I don’t remember discussing a particular site,” Guerra said. “Owning or co-owning county with or by private enterprise is illegal.”

During the short conversation over the phone, Guerra said that the opinion that Garcia requested happened several years ago while he was the Hidalgo County District Attorney.

UPDATE, UPDATE….John Toic, president of First Hartford Realty sent a letter to the Honorable Judge Ramon Garcia regarding the Hidalgo County Courthouse as a follow up to the Press Release sent Tuesday of this week. Read Letter below:

Letter to Honorable Judge Ramon Garcia-jT