Monday, December 12, 2005

Brownsville’s Skyline Is About to Change

At left is the design of the proposed Lone Star National Bank/Condo

Sometime before the end of the decade, a new high-rise will make its presence known to all Brownsvillians and alike. Pending second approval from the city commission, this new tower will rise above its surrounding at the intersection of FM 802 and Country Club Rd (where it intersects with McAllen Rd). It will be the tallest outside of downtown at 11-stories and will be a mix use building with a bank, retail, and condominiums.

The building will be owned by Lone Star National Bank, which will be housed on the first floor as well as the retail stores. The upper floors will be condos overlooking the nearby resaca and the booming northwest section of town. Although I would have preferred it to be located in downtown, I welcome any new high-rise in or outside of downtown. I believe that within ten to twenty years, a second downtown will begin to emerge between FM 802 (Ruben M Torres Blvd) and Alton Gloor. This area has seen explosive growth in just the last five years unparalleled since the early 1900s.

Some may say that a second “downtown” with its own skyline will overshadow the current downtown and be forgotten but I don’t think it’s true. If anything, it may help it in the long run. Unfortunately at this time, the current downtown will not attract people from the north part of town simply because there’s hardly any national brand retail or restaurants to shop, which is the reason people are flocking to the north part of town. Also, people from our area do not have the money to renovate the existing mid-rises located in the downtown area to help bring back the people.

So how is it that a second downtown will help resurrect the current downtown? As Brownsville grows and attracts people and businesses from out of town, they will undoubtedly move into the new subdivisions and high-rises that will be popping up in the next five to ten years. But with the infusion of wealthier people to our area, will come more money and also attract people who would love the historical part of town. Our city can support two downtowns as our population grows. The people who begin to move to our area and unfamiliar with this city will be attracted to the modern side of the city but eventually, they will venture into the historical section of the city and fall in love with its architecture of the buildings and homes, proximity to the border and the university, and the culture within the downtown. It’s these few percentage of people that will see the value in restoring these buildings and have the capitol to invest in such ventures, thus bringing people back to downtown and maybe even seeing new mid and high-rise buildings being built in about twenty years.

Before you know it, Brownsville will have a nice small skyline that will be on par to what South Padre Island has right now. I wont be surprised if a high-rise (12-stories + or 150 feet) gets built between now and 2015. The one mentioned above is 11-stories, one shy of being called a high-rise unless the height (unknown at this time) is at least 150 feet, which it may since the design has a mission style roof that may put it above 150ft. In any case, if this building doesn’t count as a high-rise, others may soon follow that may be taller. This is an exciting time for Brownsville since for so long it has lacked any kind of sizable skyline. The tallest building is 14-stories while the next tallest is at 8-stories, the rest of the buildings are less than 6-stories, which makes our downtown look sparingly in height.

I predict that the next ten years will see 15 mid-rises (4 to 11 stories), two 4-story hotels have already been built or is in construction, three high-rises, and no skyscraper (40+ stories or 500ft +). I don’t see a skyscraper happening before 2025. There would have to be Fortune 500 companies and much wealthier people living in Brownsville for this to happen.

Both McAllen and Brownsville are poised to see their cities grown up like their bigger counterparts such as San Antonio and Austin and enter into a new era of skyscrapers. With a plethora of people from the north relocating to the southern part of the country such as the RGV for its temperate weather, it is only natural to see taller buildings being built to accommodate businesses, tourism, and people. Brownsville will definitely be in the receiving end.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is assume news. Where did you hear about this? The building looks very nice. What ever happened to the office building that was suppose to be built in the Paseo Plaza area; I believe that one was suppose to be about 10 stories as well.

Any news on what retail will be locating on the bottom floor?


4:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the new downtown would be an uptown

5:34 AM  
Blogger TonyL said...

GHA, I heard about this project from last week's city meeting. The design is at the city agenda in the city's website. Look under Public Hearings #11, the site plan is included.

As for the Paseo Plaza area, actually Paseo de la Resaca at the Village Center, I did not hear anything about a ten story building there. I have spoken with Mr. Hudson last year and have been sending him e-mails about any new construction that may be going on there but so far he has said that he is still in negotiations. He did mention to me once that he was trying to lure a bank tower but that was last year and who knows if that came about cuz I haven't heard anything since then.

I'll send him another e-mail to see if there are any high-rises at the Village Center's future.

As for the retail to be located on the first floor of the bank/condo tower, I'm not sure cuz I've been looking for it in the web and can't find anything. I talked to Jeff Raymond, works for the B'ville Herald, and he is going to do an article about the tower and he called me yesterday to have my take on B'ville's changing skyline. He said that he hasn't been able to get a hold of the developers and he left them a message. I'm sure they will respond and Jeff will hopefully ask what kind of retail we can expect.

Thanks for the comments GHA. Things are definately looking "up" for B'ville! Can't wait for B'ville to have a better skyline than what we have today.


7:47 AM  
Blogger TonyL said...

So a new downtown is called an uptown? Didn't know that. Goes to show that I've never lived in a large city before. Thanks for the correction.

7:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I tried to get to that website you mentioned. I got to the city of brownsville, and commission agenda site but I couldn't figure out the how to get to "#11". Could you provide a direct link?

I also read the report in the Herald online regarding the building. Sounds promising. I hope the City commission gives the final approval.

I also read in the valley morning star online paper that Harlingen is attempting to lure the junior olympic organization away from Brownsville. What do you know about that. The article indicated that the Olympic group felt they were not getting any support from the Brownsvile City Commission.

Perhaps you can investigate and try to get Brownsville to provide more support.


6:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read today's article in the herald regarding the Foundation for Brownsville Sports. It doesn't look like they will stay in Brownsville. They'll probably be picked up by Harlingen.

Too Bad. This was one thing that made Brownsville unique in the Valley.


6:25 AM  
Blogger TonyL said...

Here's the direct link to the city agendas.

As for the Foundation for Brownsville Sports, This is tricky. Currently, the foundation is in the red and seems to be there from the start. Yes, they do bring in millions of dollars to the city and I really like the idea but I think that the foundation does not know how to manage themselves and want the tax payers to foot the bill. I don't think so. I really, really like that they chose to come to B'ville but then think as to why they came here in the first place? Why did they leave the previous city or cities?

I smell something fishy with this foundation and it is not recognized by the Official Olympics program. Read it in the Herald. Why should every business rely on the government? If they can't make it here, then it's time for them to go. Even Harlingen is being careful with this cuz they smell the fish too. There's too many questions as to how they manage their money and how they approched the city about funding their organization eventhough the city had not yet approved the budget for the next year. The foundation gave an ultimatum to the city and the city called their bluff. And I really think that's what it is, a bluff.

If I were a commissioner or mayor, I'de really would do some research into their dealings with other cities. This was brought up before they had moved here but fell on deaf ears; remember Titan Tire Co? Very similar.

I wish the foundation the best of luck but I would not have approved of the city giving them more money cuz then you give them a blank check and next time, they're going to want $1M then $1.5M and so on. And I don't like that they threaten to leave and gave the city an ultimatum, ha, then leave is what I would say and let harlingen deal with them. Harligen would them be dealing with people who use threats to get what they want. Not by my chini chin chin!

And that's what I think, GHA

8:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like it might be a good thing to let them go. If what you say is true, I hope Harlingen doesn't pick them up either. Don't want our neighbors to get bad deal.


2:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cool, building design looking forward to seeing it get built.Is there going to be a parking garage built next to it for the people living there to park?

5:38 PM  
Blogger TonyL said...

I haven't seen or heard of a parking garage so far.

7:31 AM  
Blogger Jorge Krieg said...


9:44 AM  

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