City Commissioner gives update on industrial development in northwest McAllen

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MCALLEN, Texas – Banker and McAllen City Commissioner Seby Haddad sat down for an in-depth conversation with Rio Grande Guardian anchor Mark Hanna this week.

In addition to the state of community banking, McAllen’s city government, and animal welfare, Haddad spoke about potential industrial development on the northwest side of the city.

He noted that McAllen is basically landlocked, hence a decision by the City and the McAllen Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ) to purchase more than one thousand acres of land next to Moore Air Base on the northwest side of the city.

“If you’re familiar with the Foreign Trade Zone, kind of off Military (Highway)… when it started it was just raw land,” Haddad said. “Someone envisioned this massive space… get a foreign trade zone designation and bring in industry, bring in warehousing, bringing in logistics, bringing in all those types of industries that would (lead to) higher paying jobs.”

Higher paying jobs result in a better quality of life, Haddad pointed out. “And (this) in turn results in a better community that allows retail and hospitality and all of that to thrive.”

Haddad said once the ability to create a foreign trade zone beyond ten miles of the border was permitted, it made sense for McAllen city and economic development leaders to consider expanding operations on the northwest side of town.

“That gives the capacity of McAllen Foreign Trade Zone to grow outside of their original footprint. And so, I think it was always an idea that they needed to grow,” Haddad said.

“They (McAllen FTZ) are out of space. We have on-hand almost 90% of the buildings leased. There’s one more building they’re going to build, but they’re waiting on a levee (to be repaired). And that could get rented but the Foreign Trade Zone is almost maxed out, which is great for the City of McAllen and great for industry. But we want it to grow.”

Moore Field


When McAllen city leaders started looking for land to acquire, Haddad said Moore Air Base “became a very strategic position for several reasons.”

He explained: “One, it’s got an airstrip, which is very interesting. Don’t know exactly how it might be utilized in the future, but it provides an amenity that could drive industries down here.”

Added to that, Haddad said, Moore Air Base has three runways. “And they’re pretty lengthy. They’re all military style length, which is huge.”

County Loop


Haddad said the new Hidalgo County Loop would likely be built close to the land the City of McAllen has purchased on the northwest side.

“If you look at TxDOT’s plans and their plan for the loop, it will run through that area, so it’s going to provide super quick access to I-69. And there’s going to be a route, a way, to connect it to the (international) bridges. So, we’re going to be able to get the trucks off the main roads.”

Haddad said McAllen FTZ “actually purchased a good portion of the property.”

“The (McAllen FTZ) Foundation purchased a part of it and then the City of McAllen came in and kicked in and purchased the remainder. So, I think the total is somewhere in the range of 1,200, 1,400, or 1,500 acres all surrounding Moore Air Field base.”

USDA


Haddad said the U.S. Department of Agriculture could actually be one of the first tenants of a new industrial park McAllen FTZ wants to build next to the air base.

“Now realize that Moore Air Base is really run and owned by the federal government. And they’ve got a massive USDA facility out there. USDA has one of its most important research facilities there and they’ve invested (I believe) $50 million to $70 million. And I think they’re doing a tremendous amount more. And so, we’ve had real healthy discussions about partnering with the USDA. They’re looking at a huge expansion (and they) could possibly lease and build a piece of property on the new Foreign Trade Zone and be the first tenant.”

Haddad added: “Really what you want to do is, you want to create a new space for industry that gives them all the benefits of a foreign trade zone.”

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