County buys old bank

BROWNSVILLE — An old bank building has a new owner: Cameron County.

The county closed on the former Wells Fargo bank in downtown Brownsville in late February, paying $2.3 million, or slightly under the property’s appraised value, Cameron County Judge Pete Sepulveda Jr. said.

The six-story building had been on the market since Wells Fargo moved to a new building across the street in June.

Sepulveda said county commissioners haven’t formally discussed which county offices will be moved to the new location, though some functions of the district clerk’s office could move.

“Definitely the tax assessor’s office makes a lot of sense because of the drive-through facility,” he said. “We might take some services from the county clerk. We’ll look at maybe housing some (justices of the peace), then we’ll see what other departments could go in there.

“This facility has a lot of parking area, which is what we’ve always lacked at the downtown courthouse. It was a great opportunity for us. We thought it made a lot of sense.”

Repairs to the roof and mechanical systems are already underway, along with other improvements, in order for the county to start using the building as soon as possible, Sepulveda said.

He said the building may also house offices for the city, the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley or Texas Southmost College.

Sepulveda said the move will mean many more county employees downtown during working hours, which could aid downtown revitalization.

“It’s got a lot of space, a lot of opportunities for us,” he said. “We’re pretty excited.”