McAllen eyes land near Pharr, Edinburg for UT-RGV medical school - The Monitor: News

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McAllen eyes land near Pharr, Edinburg for UT-RGV medical school

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Posted: Monday, December 16, 2013 5:11 pm

McALLEN — Imagine the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley building the new medical school in McAllen, near Doctors Hospital at Renaissance — and across the intersection from Tex Mex, the strip club at Jackson Road and Dove Avenue.

Mayor Jim Darling and City Manager Mike Perez have talked about McAllen buying the 35.14-acre property valued at $4.7 million by the Hidalgo County Appraisal District. McAllen would offer the land to UT-RGV for the new university’s medical school.

Along with the proximity to Tex Mex and Doctors Hospital, the property’s other strategic advantages include quick access to Interstate 69C/Expressway 281. The McAllen City Commission and Pharr City Commission may talk about the plan Wednesday during a joint meeting.

“It’s just a good location,” said Darling, who’s also the general counsel at Doctors Hospital.

The Texas Legislature mandated the UT System split the medical school between Hidalgo County and Cameron County. Students will transfer to Cameron County after two years, but where they’ll study remains undecided.

The UT System and Doctors Hospital plan to partner on the medical residency program, Darling said, making the nearby property appealing. Additionally, the location — Edinburg, Pharr and McAllen meet at the intersection — may defuse any regional tension.

“I think ultimately, at the end of the day, UT will decide where everything will go,” said businessman Alonzo Cantu, who co-founded Doctors Hospital. “Not McAllen or anyone else.”

The City Commission also discussed offering property near McAllen-Miller International Airport for the new university headquarters, but the UT System remained noncommittal. With local jurisdictions jockeying for attention, higher education officials have repeatedly said they plan to study options and report back later.

“All of these matters will be part of the master planning process,” said Jenny LaCoste-Caputo, executive director of public affairs for the UT System. “We hope to be announcing the master planning firm in early January.”

Regardless, local plans for the medical school hinge on McAllen actually acquiring the property.

Charles E. Thompson Jr. owns the farmland, according to corporate records filed with the Texas Secretary of State, through Chazzland LLC. Thompson didn’t return calls requesting comment Monday.

“We don’t have the property on the market at all,” said real estate broker Bill Moschel, who represents Thompson. “Never have.”

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