MISSION — Over a year after its groundbreaking, the community got its first look at the new Mission Event Center which was unveiled during a ribbon-cutting event Tuesday evening.
Mariachis, a drum line, caterers and even a red carpet were brought out to celebrate the opening of the center which was built to provide Mission residents and businesses a place to lease out for events such as receptions, business meetings, birthdays, formal dinners or trade shows.
“It’s something that a lot of people wanted to have built 10 years ago and it’s something that I didn’t want to build 10 years ago,” said Mayor Norberto “Beto” Salinas, explaining that his resistance to building the center was because he wanted to ensure the city could afford it first.
In the years since, the tax rate has gone down and Salinas said the city wouldn’t have to raise taxes to pay for the center.
“Hopefully, it will (work) for the city of Mission and we’ll be able to have a better tax rate in the future,” he said.
The 40,000-square-foot facility was financed through a certificate of obligation bond of about $17 million. The 10-acre site sits on a Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone, or TIRZ, which is a political subdivision within a city in which property is designated for new development.
The Mission Economic Development Corporation also purchased about 19 acres of land adjacent to the event center which the EDC will sell to attract retail, hotels and restaurants.
The city reached separate agreements with the EDC and the TIRZ by which they will reimburse the city for financing the project. The EDC will pay the city $1 million per year while the TIRZ will pay half a million until the debt has been paid.
The EDC’s profits from the sale of those 19 acres will also go toward paying down the debt.
The first sale was made to Walk-On’s Bistreux and Bar, a Louisiana cuisine restaurant, City Manager Martin Garza announced at the ribbon-cutting event. The city has an earnest money contract with the restaurant which only has a handful of locations throughout the state. Their location in Mission would be the first south of San Antonio.
“We’re excited because that was the purpose of this, to be a magnet for economic development,” Garza said. “We’re truly excited because we feel that it’s going to bring other restaurants, other retail stores, and we’re hoping to get a hotel right next door.”
The event center has already been booked for a few events this week and in an effort to bring in more, the city has brought on a marketing team that will be based out of the event center but will fall under the city’s new department for community events.
“The purpose is to bring in a department that’s going to focus on bringing more community events to the city of Mission,” Garza said. “Traditionally, what we do is every department head handles their own event. …Well now, all the events are going to be funneled through this department.”
Many events in the city are held at the still-active Mission Community Center, a facility this new event center is essentially meant to replace. However, its future is unclear as Garza said he would continue receiving direction from the mayor and city council as to what they eventually want to do with it.
“We’re going to leave that as a mystery still,” Garza said.