Friday, November 23, 2018

The Big Plan For The Heights Eyesore

(courtesy image)

The owners of the former Mercy Hospital met with a Houston businessman on Sunday to pen a deal that will turn the unsightly building into The World Free Trade Plaza.  It will supposedly function as a duty-free zone.  Products will flow through the facility, which will in turn bring people from all over the world to make purchases, ostensibly.

The story appeared in Monday's issue of the Laredo Times.  It was written by Brian Rogers of the Houston Chronicle.  What's interesting is that I can't find the write-up on the Chronicle's website, or any other venue for that matter.  The whole thing just seems fishy.

We're supposed to believe that Rosendo Carranco magically found an investor from Houston that is going to help cover the $60 million price tag for the project.  Carranco made it happen just days before the facility is supposed to be in compliance with city ordinances, such as keeping the premises clean and safe for the public.

Also, the announcement was made on a Sunday.  On a Sunday.

(photo courtesy of Z Lab, a Houston marketing firm.)

The investor who is supposedly helping Carranco is a restaurant owner, Long Gao.  Good luck finding any information on him.

Carranco may very well turn the old facility in the Heights into a successful venture.  For now, everything about the plan seems odd.  The timing is suspect, the plan seems grandiose and the players  questionable.  I'll just leave this here for future reference.  We wait and see.

(September 14, 1999 Laredo Medical Center moves from Heights to Saunders location.)

UPDATE: September 19, 2019

In the September 14 issue of the Laredo Times, we learn that the plan for the former Mercy Hospital has stalled. 

The dilapidated building in the Heights was going to be a wholesale warehouse for items from around the world.  At least that's how the owners were pitching it.  But according to Olivia Varela, there is a development with the current investor that is going to delay any movement going forward indefinitely.  End quote.  Varela is the executive director of the Economic Development Corporation.

The former hospital has sat vacant for 20 years.  Movement has been delayed on turning the page on this matter.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

A Personal Story

November 22, 1963 is the day that President John F. Kennedy was killed in Dallas, TX.  It was a singular moment that sent shockwaves throughout the world.  I wasn't around just yet.  The event was repeated for me through history books and news accounts.

My elders, however, had been busy getting on with life in the early 1960s.  55 years ago, my mom & dad were out of high school, married and raising a daughter.  The construction of I-35 was close at hand, forcing my grandmother to move to a property along the Zacate Creek.

And my aunt would tie the knot on the very day that Kennedy was shot.  

The wedding ceremony was set to take place at San Luis Rey Church on that fateful Friday in November.  Kennedy was assassinated at 12:30 p.m.  Processing the tragic news that afternoon, my aunt and uncle discussed cancelling the wedding.  They considered a pause while taking in the compelling information that was trickling in at the time.  Somehow my tio convinced everyone to carry on with the day's events.

They would get married later that afternoon and follow the nuptial with a small reception at my grandmother's house on San Eduardo Ave.

I've talked about that day with my aunt, only scratching the surface in terms of details.  I'll try to put more pieces in place to complement this post.  It's certainly interesting to have such a personalized telling from those who lived through such momentous times.  

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Saunders Evolving

The car wash on Saunders, across from Burger King, is almost gone.  Progress in motion.

The photo above is courtesy of Google Maps.

Demolition has been going on for about two weeks.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

A No Go

This is a scorecard on the referendums that voters did NOT approve in recent years:

This month voters turned down the idea of building a convention center in downtown Laredo.

In 2017, voters said NO to a new jail.

Two years ago, voters thought is was a bad idea to have at-large districts for city council representation.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Fliers For Laredo Candidates

Fliers arrived at the Keyrose household by the several this election season.  One that gets the nod for stupidest cheesiest is Charlie San Miguel's mailer that included the caption: May the "Fourth" be with you.  The stocky candidate for mayor used a play on words, a reference to the movie "Star Wars."

He did so because his name was "FOURTH" on the ballot.  As a council candidate, the move could've been cute.  But as mayoral prospect it comes across as stupid.  Naturally he lost his bid.

We'll soon forget about Charlie San Miguel, as he terms out from city council.  We'll save his flier for posterity (and for an occasional eye roll).

Another flier that was dropped at our doorstep is that of Mercurio Martinez.  He is heading into a runoff in December for City Council Dist. 3.

Martinez calls attention to the longstanding problem of the abandoned building, formerly known as Mercy Hospital, in the Heights neighborhood.  (Sisters of Mercy, please don't @ me.)

Councilman Alex Perez busied himself with smaller, more trivial projects during his 8-year term.  He leaves behind the eyesore that can be viewed from almost any part of the city.  The old hospital was vacated in the fall of 1999.  It's not fair to pin this solely on Alex Perez - the glaring example of inaction - but he SHOULD take credit for his many shortfalls and not just his supposed accomplishments.