RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas (KVEO) — Two weeks ago, Elon Musk, the creator of a private space exploration project called SpaceX in Boca Chica, said he would donate $30 million to Cameron County schools and Brownsville’s historic downtown, but there has been no word from Musk since.
Local business owners downtown said that the tweet alone put all eyes on Brownville nearly overnight.
“I think that I personally got at least 10 messages from different people screen-shotting the tweet,” said Christian Nevarez, co-owner of the urban Mexican kitchen, Terras.
Housing experts immediately took note saying ‘“Elon Musk has jumped in and said I want to put 10 million dollars towards this,” said Nick Mitchell-Bennett, executive director of Come Dream Come Build.
Mitchell-Bennett is referring to the $10 million promised by Musk to go towards revitalizing Brownsville’s historic downtown that has been a work in progress for decades, according to Mitchell-Bennett.
The other $20 million was promised to Cameron County school districts, but KVEO reached out to every school district in the county and say they have been on standby with no word from Musk.
Other downtown businesses say that the pandemic has cut back on tourism and are hoping this brings more clients to the area.
“Usually, Charro Days would bring us more customers, but we did not have it this year and overall, it’s not been busy with less work,” said Jose Gracia, owner of Los Reyes Café.
CBDC says that there is one million square feet of vacant housing in the downtown area, and investors should not only focus on investing in businesses but also in housing.
“People will visit downtown if people live downtown,” said Mitchell-Bennett. “Are we using that money to go after these two-tiered solutions, which is housing people and building out and redeveloping the commercial space?”
Mitchell-Bennett says an example of a housing project downtown is the historic Samano building that has received $11 million in donations from multiple investors. The Samano building is planned to have the first floor as a grocery store while the top 4 stories will be apartment housing.
Mitchell-Bennett says if the city receives the money, they must invest for long-term change.
“The city has as a gem in downtown and we could either screw this up or we can be planned and prepared,” said Mitchell-Bennett.