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Harlingen, McAllen and Edinburg lead Valley building boom

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From L-R: Richard Garcia, Mayor of Edinburg and COB of the Edinburg EDC; Julio Alvarez, CEO Rio Grande Partnership; Gus Garcia, President and CEO of the Edinburg EDC; Alex Mead, President and CEO of Mission Economic Development Corp. and Keith Patridge, President and CEO of the McAllen Economic Development Corp. Photos By Roberto Hugo Gonzalez.
From L-R: Richard Garcia, Mayor of Edinburg and COB of the Edinburg EDC; Julio Alvarez, CEO Rio Grande Partnership; Gus Garcia, President and CEO of the Edinburg EDC; Alex Mead, President and CEO of Mission Economic Development Corp. and Keith Patridge, President and CEO of the McAllen Economic Development Corp. Photos By Roberto Hugo Gonzalez.

Harlingen, McAllen, Edinburg, Brownsville and Mission all broke the $100 million mark in permitted construction activity.

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By Roberto Hugo Gonzalez

As originally published by Texas Border Business newsprint Edition

According the Rio Grande Valley Partnership Council, concrete, carpet and composite roofs were in demand in 2013. But that is not all; last year was the busiest for commercial and residential construction in the Valley in at least five years, according to a survey of area cities’ building permits compiled by the Rio Grande Valley Partnership.

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Valley cities recorded $926.8 million in building permits last year, about a 5% jump over 2012’s construction. Harlingen led the region in commercial construction with $134.9 million that included a Sam’s wholesale store, a Residence Inn by Marriott and several restaurants and retail outlets. McAllen spearheaded the RGV’s residential sector with $62.3 million in new home building just ahead of Brownsville and Edinburg.

“We are creating opportunities for business and growth in the Valley with education and hard work,” Julian Alvarez RGV Partnership CEO told Texas Border Business. Julian continued to say, “It’s really nice to see new neighborhoods and shopping centers go up. More people are investing in our region. We see it as viable place to do business and create jobs. It’s no coincidence that our unemployment rate drops as permits rise.”

To be sure, six years ago 2008 was a boom year in the region and set low marks for unemployment in many cities and highs for construction permits. That year they totaled almost $900 million. Furthermore, in 2007, the Valley saw a record-setting $1.48 billion worth of construction permits filed in Valley cities. Fast-forward through the recession and recovery years to 2013 and construction is nearly back to what it was and besting 2009, five years ago, when total construction permits were a paltry $617.0 million.

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Gus Garcia from Edinburg said, “Just in our most recent EEDC Board of Directors meeting held on January 28, we reviewed Project Elder, Project Zenith, Project Ed, Project Spread, and Project Quest. We are in the negotiating stages with these projects. Many others from last year are in the final negotiations, we are just working out details,” said Gus García. “But as the public can see, there are a lot of projects happening. All of these projects mean additional commercial development, which will equate to service centers, and continued residential permits and construction, and increased local sales taxes being generated; so we are very excited about these projects.”

Julian told Texas Border Business that not every city is included and county permits (unincorporated areas) are not included in the survey (cities voluntarily submit info to RGV Partnership), but it is a great indication of the level of activity in the region. In all, the Partnership compiles numbers from 26 of the Valley’s largest cities and towns.

Harlingen, McAllen, Edinburg, Brownsville and Mission all broke the $100 million mark in permitted construction activity. All of them except for McAllen improved over 2012 (despite losses it’s just behind Harlingen in overall construction), and on the opposite end, Mission more than doubled building from 2012 to 2013, and San Juan’s permits quadrupled in value.

Construction is also healthy, as retirees, or “winter Texans,” have moved to the area. That has spurred the expansion of health care services, producing hospital, residential care and home health care jobs (Forbes, 2013).”This is an indication that we have turned the corner and are forming a gradual growth curve.” Says Keith Partridge, president of McAllen Economic Development Corporation.

Alex Meade, the Chief Executive Officer for Mission Economic Development Corporation told Texas Border Business, “Mission continues to be a smart location for building a business or raising a family.”  He continued to say, “The Mayor, City Commission and the EDC Board have worked to improve the city’s quality of life and improve Mission’s climate for business and it looks like it’s working well.”

The census report indicated that Mission’s population growth was of almost 80% during the last 2010 US Census survey report, that’s a ten-year period.

Recent local and state reports show economic activity in Edinburg is thriving with an upward trend in building permit activity and a substantial increase in state sales tax allocation this month.

The City of Edinburg January Construction Report shows a 122 percent year-to-date increase in overall building permit activity.  Last month, the City saw $14.6 million in activity compared to nearly $6.6 million in January 2013.

Mayor Richard H. Garcia told Texas Border Business, “The ongoing projects, which include the creation of the University of Texas RGV and a new events arena, are a beacon attracting people to Edinburg.  It is a recipe for progress when you combine that with the long-established friendly attitude of our citizens as well as City leadership focused on facilitating growth.”

Additionally, the City of Edinburg saw a significant increase in commercial alteration permit activity, from $119,250 in January 2013 to $2,633,447 during the last month.

New housing activity, including single family and multi-family structures, increased year-to-date by 18 percent from $2,615,430 in January 2013 to $3,092,000 this January.

New commercial construction permit activity during January 2014 was $2,554,415.

During the past decade Edinburg’s population has increased by an unprecedented 59 percent.  Edinburg is the third largest City in the Rio Grande Valley with lots of room to grow. TBB

City or Area    2013 Permits      2012 Permits      $ Growth      % Growth

RGV Cities           $926.8m                     $875.9m                     $50.9m                      5.8%

Brownsville          $120.9m                     $88.1m                       $32.8m                      37.2%

McAllen                  $150.3m                     $172.3m                     (-$22.0m)                 (-14.6%)

Edinburg                $123.2m                     $100.4m                    $22.8m                      22.7%

Mission                   $107.8m                      $47.8m                      $60.0m                    125.5%

Pharr                       $87.7m                         $121.3m                    (-$33.6m)                 (-38.3%)

Harlingen              $150.3m                      $100.4m                    $49.9m                     49.7%

Weslaco                  $26.0m                       $18.5m                       $7.5m                         40.5%

San Juan                $41.2m                        $10.3m                       $30.9m                     300.0%

San Benito             $12.5m                        $7.2m                          $5.3m                         73.6%

Mercedes               $14.2m                        $4.5m                          $9.7m                         215.5%

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