A new design for the area encompassing West University between 4th Street and Sugar Road is beginning to take shape, according to Edinburg EDC.
Business owners are tightlipped, waiting on contracts to be finalized with the city, but plans call for the demolition and redesign of at least four businesses in the area. EDC officials say the changes will give the high traffic area in front of UTPA a new look.
La Mexicana Taqueria, located at 1020 W. University Dr. has had a sign in front of the business for at least two months advertising a new building, which is tentatively slated for completion sometime this summer once the current restaurant is demolished.
Demolition of a former carwash located in front of UTPA at 834 W. University was demolished in March to make way possibly for the new location of First Cash Pawn, and possibly a new “Grill and Chill” Dairy Queen restaurant.
DQ owner Robert Lozano was contacted on Monday, but did not reveal the specifics of the new restaurant due to contractual issues still being worked out with the city, he said. While details are still sketchy, economic officials are still unclear whether the plaza for the current Dairy Queen facility located at 1224 W. University will be demolished or gutted to make way for a new shopping center.
City officials have also been in talks, since at least the beginning of this year to construct a new thoroughfare going south from UTPA to the South Texas Business, Education & Technology (BETA) Academy on Sugar Road. A daycare facility located on the 1200 block of W. University, apparently is scheduled for demolition to make way for the new road, according to the EDC.
Demolition for University Inn and the adjacent plaza located at 1400 W. University commenced last week. EDC officials weren’t clear on what would be constructed in its place as plans are still very tentative, but chances are high that a new hotel will constructed following demolition. Plans for a new hotel were included in the original downtown revitalization masterplan unveiled last year.
“The whole university design is starting to take shape,” said EDC executive director, Pedro Salazar. “With the taqueria, they are going to move the pawnshop on the site of the former carwash (and) we’ll see what goes in, on the site of University Inn.”
“All of that area in front of the university is going to change. I think it’s going to give it a whole new image to that area, that corridor,” Salazar said.
Edinburg's retail economy in February, as measured by the amount of local and state sales taxes generated by a wide range of local businesses, was up 5.46 percent over the same month last year, which represented the best improvement among the Valley's major cities, according to the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.
From Nov. 2010 through February 2011, Edinburg's retail economy averaged about 16 percent better than during the same period the year before, according to the state agency.
Edinburg's retail economy generated $1.1 million in local sales taxes in February, reflecting the 5.46 percent improvement over the same time last year.
Under the reporting system used by that state agency, local and state sales taxes generated on retail sales in February 2011 were reported to the state comptroller's office in March. On Friday, April 8, the state comptroller's office sent back the local sales tax portion – called a rebate – to the cities in which the retail sales were made.
The latest sales tax figures from the state comptroller's office are the continuing result of many factors, including strong leadership at the political, business and community levels in Edinburg, Salazar said.
"When people are employed they have more money to spend," he said. "We are leading the Valley in the area of job growth, and our retail sales results reflect that. We will continue to see strong growth in retail sales in the foreseeable future as more jobs come on board at some of the large projects that are currently under construction."