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La Joya preparing for August opening of new city hall

After having a groundbreaking ceremony for it nearly two years ago, the city of La Joya is entering the final stages of constructing its new city hall and police station.

Last week city commissioners had a walk in tour of the 15,200 square feet building that will house the city’s police department and administrative offices.

20180411 LajoyaCityHallCity Administrator Mike Alaniz said the city is still expecting an opening for the building in late August.

“We’re eager to finally open but we’ll take it slow to make sure it’s being built the way it should be built,” Alaniz said.

According to Alaniz, landscaping and connections with the water lines are the two construction issues that need to be addressed before the McAllen-based firm Milnet Architectural Services does a final walk through inspection of the building.

Previously, the city held a groundbreaking ceremony for the new city hall and police station October 2016 along Expressway 83 on the lot that a Plains Capital Bank branch stood before closing the year prior. The city purchased the lot through a $3.5 million loan they received from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

As previously reported, the project was due to be completed last summer, but the start of construction was delayed until last September due to the cost of the project turning out to be about $400,000 more than originally projected.

Because of this, the city had to apply for a $500,000 certificate of obligation to pay for the extra cost.

“There’s always delays when it comes to construction, but we’re very comfortable with it taking a bit longer than expected,” Alaniz said. “We’re here preparing the current city hall for a transition to the new building by collecting all our old files and packing them.”

The current city hall and police station, which sits alongside Leo Avenue and Expressway 83, has already been appraised at $500,000, Alaniz said last April, adding that the city is making plans to put the building up for sale once everyone is settled into the new building.

The city is also negotiating an agreement with a new developer to take over the construction of the city’s first ever-freestanding emergency room, Alaniz said.

The city’s ER, a 6,300-square foot facility, had a groundbreaking December 2016 and is being built just behind the new city hall and police station on 1.5 acres of land donated by the city to developers Texas ER Management, as previously reported.

Even though Alaniz couldn’t elaborate on why the project had been delayed for so long, he said new developers are negotiating with the city to take over the project and complete it.

“We know it’s taking longer than expected, but we’re hoping to establish negotiations so we can hopefully get all the proper paperwork in order and get them going,” Alaniz said.

Alaniz also announced that a developer had recently purchased 40 lots located east of Leo Avenue and 7th street in the Palm Shores subdivision.

The city is expecting the population, which currently sits at under 4,300 residents according to the United States Census Bureau, to increase within the next few years.

To prepare for this growth, the city is even communicating with outside developers to bring in franchise establishments into the city similar to Mr. Gatti’s Pizza and Jack in the Box.

“It’s a steady growth,” Alaniz said. “As we speak, more homes are being built on a week to week basis. For some reason people are slowly but steadily moving into our city and I’m, hoping we end up building more than 100 homes within the next few years.”

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