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Elmendorf to see new retail, commercial development
De Leon’s Grocery on Old Corpus Christi Road in Elmendorf has served as a favorite shop and gathering place for more than 70 years.
ELMENDORF -- A newly opened Dollar General store on U.S. 181 and the continued construction of a city hall on F.M. 327 are just some of the indicators that a prosperous future is in store for Elmendorf.
The new city hall is set to be completed in February 2013, according to Elmendorf City Administrator Cody Dailey. The project, which is being funded through a $1.522 million rural development grant and loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, signifies the realization of a goal that the city’s residents have had for at least 30 years. The new building will have an area of slightly less than 5,000 square feet -- a far cry from the approximately 990- square-foot administration building currently in use on Old Corpus Christi Road.
The new Elmendorf City Hall will house all municipal offices, including the Elmendorf Police Department, Dailey said. It also will have a lobby with payment windows for municipal court fines and water bills, a large meeting room to be used for both council meetings and municipal court, and more. The city, for at least six years, has held these events in the fellowship hall of the St. Anthony Catholic Church on Kilowatt Road.
Elmendorf also is working toward the reopening of the city cemetery, which is located at the corner of First Street and Fifth Avenue. Plots will begin to be sold after the city council adopts a cemetery ordinance to establish rules for the 5-acre burial ground, Dailey said.
The Elmendorf Cemetery Association was given the former railroad cemetery circa 1922 by the San Antonio-Aransas Pass Railroad. But recordkeeping has languished over the decades, partly because the former Elmendorf City Hall burned in the 1970s or 1980s, Dailey said.
“When I came, the earliest records being kept were from 2000 or 2001,” he said. “There were no records of who’s buried there, or where. There was no control of how the cemetery was used. People were allowed to bury their own family, literally with shovels.”
As a result, the city passed a moratorium on new burials to allow a survey of existing plots to be performed.
The city’s cemetery woes are being laid to rest as new life is breathed into Elmendorf’s retail development. At the head in what could be a boom for the city is Dollar General, which opened an Elmendorf location in late October. A grand opening date is to be announced.
Dailey said sales-tax projections for the new store still are not known because of a dispute between Elmendorf and the city of San Antonio.
“That spot [the corner of Kilowatt Road and U.S. 181] is not in our city limits,” he said. “It touches the city limits.”
Years ago, Dailey said, Elmendorf traded that portion of its extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ) for part of San Antonio’s ETJ. Discussions have been ongoing between the two cities’ governing bodies since September 2011 for Elmendorf to recoup that territory, but a decision could be delayed until at least January 2013. The latest deal would include Elmendorf establishing a tree ordinance and splitting sales-tax revenues on the site with San Antonio for 15 years, Dailey said. Elmendorf already has agreed to the deal.
Changes in store
Prior to Dollar General’s opening, the city administrator said that Elmendorf sales-tax revenue was approximately $5,000 per month. Aside from the small-box discount retailer, the city only has four other sales-tax-generating businesses, including Las Wetas restaurant, Toby’s Paint and Body, Rooster’s Bar and Grill, and the De Leon Grocery store.
However, if the proposed sale of the former Butterfield Ranch property occurs as planned, that will change. An investment group, known as Agua de Vida LLC, is on track to close a transaction with Kilowatt Park Land LLC to purchase the 250-plus-acre site that straddles the Wilson County line between U.S. 181 and Cassiano Road.
Art Martinez, who represents Agua de Vida, told the Elmendorf City Council in August that two hotels, a restaurant, and a two-story commercial structure with offices and retail space are planned for the site, along with 20 commercial pad sites and 650 residential lots. If successful, the project definitely will change the dynamic of the city, which according to the 2010 U.S. Census was home to 1,488 residents and had a median household income of $44,276.
Track to the future
Elmendorf is one of many South Texas towns that sprang up during the region’s railroad heyday. Those days could return to Elmendorf, as Dailey said land along the Union Pacific Railroad bed off Old Corpus Christi Road was purchased by an unnamed company. Plans for the property include a chemical plant and an offload point for sand used in hydraulic fracturing operations within the Eagle Ford shale play.
Trains also could soon pass through Elmendorf to get to Saspamco, located just across the Wilson County line. There, plans are under way to construct a 300-acre rail-serviced industrial site off C.R. 128, which is the continuation of Old Corpus Christi Road. Wilson County Pct. 1 Commissioner Albert Gamez Jr. said in October that indications are that the site will accommodate as many as 400 railcars, which will deliver goods to accommodate the various industries supporting the ongoing oil and natural gas activity within the Eagle Ford shale.
Until recently, Dailey said, the windfall of the area’s petrochemical boom only has come close to Elmendorf, with new facilities for Haliburton, Weatherford International, and Baker-Hughes being built within a short driving distance of the city. He is hopeful that more retail and commercial development will occur within Elmendorf, which will help offset the property-tax burden of the city’s residents while providing them new employment opportunities.
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