Convention Center Update: More ‘quality-of-life’ projects possible

HARLINGEN — The $14.8 million convention center won’t completely drain coffers used to fund other possible projects.

The Harlingen Community Improvement Board will maintain half its current annual revenues of $1.3 million while it pays off most of the $15.9 million debt incurred to build the facility, Mayor Chris Boswell said.

That means the agency can fund more “quality-of-life” projects such as construction of the Veterans Memorial, park expansions and extensions to the city’s trail system.

As part of the city’s finance plan, the agency will pay $9.7 million over a 20-year period to help pay off taxable certificates of obligation used to build the convention center.

The city, whose hotels and motels generate about $1 million a year in tax revenue, also will use $3.8 million from the hotel-motel occupancy tax fund to pay off the debt.

As part of the convention center plan, officials pulled $1.96 from the city’s three tax increment financing reinvestment zones to fund most of a $2.7 million land purchase.

The city will build the 43,700-square-foot convention center on 8 acres off Teege and Brazil roads near Bass Pro Shops in the Harlingen Heights business district.

“I don’t think we’re putting all our eggs in one basket,” Boswell said of the project’s three funding sources.

Under an agreement, the city will fund the convention center’s construction while developer B.C. Lynd builds an attached 150-room upscale hotel at a cost of about $20 million.