This article originally ran in the Dec. 16, 2022 issue of the Progress Times.
Since the 1990s, the City of Mission has put money toward breathing new life into its downtown district. And although millions of dollars and events have gone toward reviving the area, the city did not have an official plan in the books until now.
At the Dec. 12 Mission City Council meeting, the mayor and council approved Resolution No. 1805, designating the downtown district of Conway from East Interstate Highway 2 to East Griffin Parkway as an area of interest for the concerted revitalization plan. Basically, the resolution is documentation of past and future efforts to improve downtown and adjacent neighborhoods. With the documentation, Mission increases its chances for state and federal grant funds designated for cities that intend to redevelop areas with specific revitalization plans.
In the last 12 years alone, Mission committed about $33.6 million to downtown and the surrounding area. Funds have gone toward street, drainage, sanitary and waterline improvements. But the city has also worked to enhance nearby parks, repair sidewalks and refurbish alleys for pedestrians and families in the area. The official revitalization plan opens the opportunity for Mission to seek out other resources to upgrade the site.
And the Mission Housing authority plans to utilize those resources as well.
“The objective of the revitalization plan is that when efforts like the housing authority are going after federal funds and state funds, you get points if you build within districts or areas that a city recognizes as a need for revitalization,” MHA Executive Director Arnold Padilla said. “So from the Housing Authority’s objective, our attempt is to be able to obviously garnish those valuable points in the redevelopment of Anacua [Village].”
Anacua is Mission’s affordable housing community located at 810 N. Mayberry St, less than a mile from Conway Avenue. Padilla said the development was built in 1953 but has outlived itself.
“We’ve got tremendous difficulties in keeping it operating,” he explained. “And our objective is to be able to go back and apply for some low income housing tax credits. But to do so, that is a very competitive program and we need every point we can get to be able to ensure ourselves some success.”
Last year, MHA board Co-Chair Everardo Gomez said the Mission Housing Authority had plans to renovate the 80-unit development. And at the Dec. 12 meeting, Community Development Director Jo Anne Longoria reported that the goal is to expand the site to no more than 160 units.
According to census data from 2010 to 2020, the population of downtown Mission has dwindled. Larger, multi-family homes became single-resident homes, many of which house older occupants. As the housing authority and the city work on reconstructing the area, the hope is it invites more people into the community.
With the new revitalization documentation, the housing authority and other City of Mission entities can apply for grants and stretch their funding for projects located in and around the downtown district.
“So all we’ve done is really gone back and acknowledged what you’re already doing,” Padilla said, explaining the revitalization plan to the city council. “And if you look at the commitments, you’re not committing anything that you’re not already doing. You’re already investing city funds in the area. You’re already investing city funds in redeveloping the area or renovating infrastructure, enhancing your parks. But it’s nothing specific other than the continued effort to bring people back into this area.”