Mitte District may expand: Resolution gets voted on Tuesday

A resolution being voted on at today’s Brownsville City Commission meeting would vastly expand the boundaries of the Mitte Cultural District.

The resolution repealing existing district boundaries and imposing new ones comes after a failed attempt in 2016 to obtain a cultural-district designation from the Texas Commission on the Arts. The district subsequently partnered with the Austin-based Mitte Foundation on a second application using feedback from the TCA that recommended expanding the district’s boundaries, pursuing economic self-sufficiency and increasing the focus on arts and music programming within the district.

The Mitte Foundation has acquired several parcels of land to be used to build facilities that will provide a regular revenue stream for the district by offering “more venues and entities for collaboration on programming, and a greater draw for locals and tourists with a more robust cultural programming,” according to Resolution No. 2020-068A.

If the resolution is approved, the district’s new borders will be, counterclockwise, Palm Boulevard from Ebony Avenue to the International Boundary and Water Commission levee, southeast along the former Union Pacific rail yard corridor to the Rio Grande, along the river to Gateway International Bridge, east on International Boulevard to I-69E, north on I-69E to Ebony Avenue, then Ebony Avenue north to Palm Boulevard.

According to the resolution, the new boundaries would encompass Charro Days and parade routes, all Brownsville Historical Association assets and venues and Market Square, increasing the chances TCA will grant cultural-district designation. Expanding the boundaries won’t just make the district more competitive for TCA designation but will also allow the Mitte Foundation to invest in the downtown area, according to the city’s “project scope and analysis” of the project.

“The Resolution sets forth the boundary and does not grant any other authority to (the) Mitte District Board,” according to the document. “This boundary will not interrupt the workings of the other existing entities, and corresponding boundaries, such as TIRZ #3, National Registered Historic District, and Main Street, or future districts that may be incorporated.”

Those entities would continue to have “independent boards and charges,” while cultural-district designation would boost collaboration and funding opportunities among the various entities, according to the document.

“Specifically, it will address a key point by the (TCA) on economic self-sufficiency as a cultural district,” according to the document.

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