McALLEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — A technology company plans to build a corporate campus in McAllen that could create several hundred jobs.
Zoho, a software development company, plans to build a corporate campus near Champion Lakes Golf Course.
The city of McAllen owns the nearly 98-acre property, which is used as a disc golf course. Zoho met with neighbors about the proposal last week.
“Nothing is final yet, but we are excited about the potential to deepen our roots and expand our operations in McAllen in a way that benefits the entire community,” Zoho said in a statement. “We will continue to work with the city to ensure that any development is in the best interest of everyone involved.”
Zoho, which sells software for everything from email to project management, is based in Chennai, India. The company’s US headquarters is located on a 375-acre farm southeast of Austin.
About 16 people from McAllen applied for jobs with Zoho when the company opened the Austin office, said Keith Patridge, president and CEO of the McAllen Economic Development Corp.
“They were some of their best employees,” Patridge said. “So, they said, ‘Where is this McAllen?'”
Zoho agreed to open a McAllen office.
“We see people moving from smaller towns and cities for opportunities, which often forces them to leave their hometowns, their families and communities, and where they put down roots, because the ‘best’ jobs are typically in big, expensive cities. It’s an incredibly difficult decision for most people to make,” Raju Vegesna, chief evangelist at Zoho, said in an April 2022 press release.
That’s why it’s important for us to open offices like the one in McAllen at Zoho. It empowers people, not the other way around. This empowers individuals to sustain, support and give back to the community and lifestyle they value most, all while having access to a great job that can support both.”
After a year in McAllen, the company decided to build a corporate campus for Rio Grande Valley employees, Patridge said, after the farm near Austin.
Zoho reviewed several sites before choosing a property on Ware Road across from Champion Lakes Golf Course.
Patridge said the company would build on about eight acres and maintain the remaining green space.
Zoho would build a hacienda-style office with a large courtyard, Patridge said, which could house several hundred employees.
“These are good paying jobs,” said McAllen Mayor Javier Villalobos. “We’re pretty excited about it.”
The City of McAllen owns the land, which is zoned agricultural open space.
After checking with Zoho, the city submitted a request to rezone the property, according to documents released under the Texas Public Information Act.
Nearly 64 acres would be zoned for light industrial use. The remaining land, nearly 34 acres, would be zoned for general commercial use.
When the Planning and Zoning Commission met on March 21, not a single person spoke in support of the proposal to rezone the property.
“We want to continue to see it as a park,” said Raquel Oliva, who lives nearby. “Or in this case, it’s to the disc golf course.”
The property, which is in a flood zone, is home to javelinas and rare birds.
“It’s also a residential area for us,” Oliva said. “To have the infringement of business lights, noise coming into our residential area, I think would be unfortunate.”
Attorney Victoria Guerra of McAllen urged the city to protect the disc golf course and surrounding land.
“The city does not need the loss of another green space,” Guerra said. “We need more green space. In fact, green space is what brings people to our city.”
McAllen did not provide the public with any information about how the property would be used, said Joe Califa, who is running for City Commission in 2019, or what prompted the rezoning request.
“They’re asking you to zone the property now without knowing what’s going to happen,” Califa said. “It’s like, ‘Just trust us.'”
The Planning and Zoning Committee voted to recommend denial of the rezoning request. Members of the City Commission make the final decision.
After the vote, Zoho decided to hold a community meeting on the proposal.
“We appreciated the opportunity to attend the recent neighborhood meeting to hear concerns about the city’s potential sale of land to our business,” Zoho said in a statement. “We understand that there are a number of different perspectives on this issue and we are committed to working with the city to explore all possible options.”