Will the big plan work? Convention center draws backers, doubters

HARLINGEN — Mayor Chris Boswell stands strong behind the city’s plans to build a $14 million convention center.

However, some people aren’t as sure of the concept as concerns are being raised about numbers showing decreases in incoming flights and concerns the 150-room up-scale hotel would take business from existing area hotels.

The city plans to use sales tax revenue ear-marked for economic development to pay back debt tied to the construction of the 43,000-square-foot convention center at the Harlingen Heights business district.

Meanwhile, developer BC Lynd would fund the construction of an upscale 150-room hotel while leasing, operating and staffing the convention center.

“It’s a total home run,” Boswell said Friday. “That’s one of the upsides of this project — we have a great partner.”

But some local hotel executives are concerned a big, luxury hotel would take away business in the city in which two new hotels already have opened in just more than a year.

“After that, the market will be saturated, so business would slow down for anybody else,” said Eddie Aguirre, general manager at the Hampton Inn & Suites in Harlingen. “It sucks away some business (other hotels) normally would get.”

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