McAllen, Tx (Hidalgo Co.) – Tres Lagos, a 2,571-acre master planned community north of McAllen, is well on its way to becoming Hidalgo County’s most thoughtfully drawn high-end communities.
In December, the city of McAllen approved a request by developer Mike Rhodes of Rhodes Enterprises Inc. to annex that site into the city and proceed with the creation of a Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone.
According to Rhodes’ master plan, Tres Lagos will eventually be subdivided into a fully diversified array of uses. These include single family and multi-family residential, K-12 schools, medical and university campuses, parks, office, retail and other commercial.
The allocated land uses by acreage are:
Schools: 80 acres
Churches: 90 acres
Medical: 105 acres
University: 105 acres
Multi-family: 118 acres
Townhomes: 75 acres
Offices: 97 acres
Drainageway: 76 acres
Street Islands: 11 acres
Parks: 110 acres
Roadways: 152 acres
Retail: 192 acres
Single Family: 1,105 acres
According to Michelle Leftwich, McAllen’s assistant city manager, the main benefits of the TIRZ to Rhodes is that the city will run fiber cable up to the southeast corner of his property and a greywater line from Tres Lago to the city’s sewer plant.
Rhodes, in turn, will donate six miles of right of way for drainage and repayment of the city’s expense for utilities will take precedent when any tax income is realized from the TIRZ. The dedicated drainage, Rhoades claims, will improve the drainage issues both upstream and downstream, with an estimated value of $6 million.
The next step in the process for Rhodes is for the TIRZ Board to finalize the agreement. The city and county commissions must then approve an interlocal agreement based on the final terms of the TIRZ agreement, Leftwich said.
Rhodes proposed an 80/20 split, with 80 percent of revenue going to Tres Lagos and 20 percent to McAllen to pay for city services such as police, fire, street and drainage maintenance.
Since the city Board of Commissioners approved the annexation, rezoning applications have been proceeding. On Feb. 23, the city commissioners approved a rezoning from agricultural use to multi-family residential apartments fro 346.8 acres, and to single family residential for 765 acres.
Rhodes will be getting potable water from Sharyland Water Supply Corp. and is responsible for the installation of all other infrastructure, Leftwich added.
A TIRZ is normally used to reinvest in blighted inner city districts such as slum neighborhoods and obsolete industrial sites. Tres Lagos is directly north of McAllen and in a natural path for future urban growth. The developer of such a site would normally apply to a city for a Public Improvement District, which is a similar method for obtaining infrastructure connections.
Leftwich said that a TIRZ can be obtained if the zone is blighted or “underdeveloped.” Tres Lagos qualified as an underdeveloped site.
The boundaries of Tres Lagos extend from 8 Mile Road to the south, Ware Road to the east, Monte Cristo (FM 1925) on the north and FM 2993 on the west.
According to the talking points Rhodes presented to the County Commission, the 80/20 split is justified because when the development reaches maturity it would add $2.8 billion to the tax base. Rhodes claims the development would be the first in the region to provide Fiber-to-Home for high-speed Internet, the recycled water (greywater) will be used to water the green spaces.
Another unique feature is the hike-and-bike trail system.
“The trails will allow residents to access directly any other part of the development without using the streets. The idea is to integrate the walking trails, with parks and open space, and also to integrate the existing irrigation canal, and required drainage structures in an attractive way, so that they can be made part of an attractive overall amenity for the project,” according to a Tres Lagos documented submitted to the Texas Public Utilities Commission. The projected budget for this including related landscaping is estimated at 5 percent of gross sales. The landscaping and hike-bike trails will be phased with the arterial streets and related infrastructure construction.”
Rhodes also notes that present sewer service is adequate for the first 600 acres of development. To develop the remainder, a new off-site sewer line will have to be built to connect to a new sewer plant, which should be completed sometime before the year 2020. “Off-site sewer design has not been started, but a budget of $2.8 million (5,600 additional connections at $500 per connection) was used in the pro forma and considered to be conservative and reasonable.”
The other major infrastructure expense involves roadbuilding. Rhodes estimates a total of 46,772 linear feet of arterial streets, with a projected average cost of $250 per linear foot.
Adolfo Pesquera (Reporter/Editor) is a veteran news journalist. He has worked for Hearst Corp., American Lawyer Media, News Corp and Freedom Communications. His work has been published in newspapers and magazines across the USA. He is a journalism graduate of UT-RGV. He writes, edits and creates digital pages for VBX.