City’s economic agency seeks bids for park landscaping

The city's economic development agency, which owns about half of the 140 acres at Harlingen Industrial Park on the east side, is seeking bids to improve landscaping and irrigation. By Rick Kelley, Valley Morning Star

HARLINGEN — The city’s economic development agency is moving forward with a plan for new landscaping at the Harlingen Industrial Park.

Last week the Harlingen Economic Development Corp. issued a request for bids from landscaping firms to enhance curb appeal for companies already in the park, and to improve prospects of adding more.

The landscaping and irrigation improvement bids are due at the HEDC offices on Feb. 28.

“We have set aside some money to do some landscaping within the landscaping easement that we have at the industrial park,” Raudel Garza, chief executive officer of the HEDC, said Monday. “We don’t know what the bid numbers will look like but based on the design I have a ballpark figure of what it should come in at. … Basically the EDC wants to beautify the industrial park and we’re going to look at the bids that come in and decide where or not we’ll do it.”

The HEDC board has explored whether to make the 140-acre park a Public Improvement District, or PID. These special districts allow the owners of the property to self-assess or self-levy, creating a taxing zone where they would contribute to a fund which could then be used for landscaping, road improvements or improved lighting.

Since the HEDC board has not moved on that, the landscaping and irrigation work will not come under the PID umbrella but will be funded by the agency.

The HEDC owns about half of the 140 acres at the industrial park on the city’s east side.

Industrial parks have come far from a few decades ago, and modern manufacturing firms are not the smokestack-heavy industries of years past.

Good-looking grounds are part of today’s competitive process when it comes to attracting companies to a city.

During company relocation negotiations, Garza said without an attractive appearance at an industrial park, economic development staff members often have to compromise to offset that.

“So you have to offer the land for less or you have to allow them to build something you don’t necessarily want there, and that’s not what we’re trying to do,” he said. “We’re trying to create an environment where you get some Class A investments and the value of people’s improvements in the industrial park increases over time.

“We want people to invest in the industrial park and know they’re going to have some inherent value some 10, 20, 30 years down the line,” he added. “Part of that is keeping up with the landscaping, and keeping up with the signage.”