Feb. 25--RAYMONDVILLE -- City commissioners today will consider taking their first step toward applying for a city-backed loan on behalf of a family that plans to build a $1.5 million produce storage and distribution center on the city's northern edge, officials said.
Former Mayor Joey Sosa, who is working with sister Deborah and brother Charlie, said the family is considering asking for a $500,000 loan to help fund the project.
The family plans to turn the area along Sixth Street from Sauz to San Francisco streets into a produce distribution center that will include dry and cold storage units, said Sosa, a pastor at Calvary Christian Church who served as mayor from 1999 to 2001.
The city would use land and building improvements as collateral for the loan to buy a cold storage unit, Carlos Mondragon, the city's grant coordinator, said.
"If anything goes wrong, the city will make a good-faith effort to rent it out or sell it," Mondragon said.
The 5.93-acre site littered with crumbling packing sheds is currently appraised at $109,636.
Deborah Sosa, who runs a produce packing warehouse in Las Cruces, N.M., paid $24,985 for the property at a tax foreclosure sale Feb. 4, Cassandra Goodell, tax sale manager with the law firm of Linebarger, Goggan, Blair & Sampson in Brownsville, said.
Meeting today, commissioners will consider starting the loan application process with the Texas Department of Agriculture'sTexas Capital Fund, City Manager Eleazar Garcia said.
"It's competitive all across Texas but we're hoping we score well," Garcia said of the proposed loan application. "It's an urban renewal project that's agriculturally based."
Mondragon said the family will submit a business plan; its commitment to create jobs; its sources of funds and the money's proposed use; and a letter from a bank or mortgage company stating its credit line extends beyond its financial assets.
The family said the project will help Raymondville return to its heyday as a produce distribution center.
Charlie Sosa, an engineer in Kingsville, said the family will try to renovate some of the eight buildings on the sprawling site.
The buildings have been vacant for at least 30 years, Agustin Lopez, chief appraiser for the Willacy County Appraisal District, said.
Garcia said the family plans to clean up one of the city's biggest eyesores as part of what would be "one of the biggest urban renewal projects in the Valley."
Joey Sosa said the family launched their clean-up drive Friday, clearing brush from the area east of the railroad tracks.
"We took down all the trees," Joey Sosa said. "I've just got to get them piled up."
The extensive clean-up drive could take about two months to complete, he said.
He said rain delayed the clean-up Monday.
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