City of Sunland Park , New Mexico

March 4, 2024

City of Sunland Park , New Mexico

Sunland Park: Cultivating Growth and Community


Visionary leadership transforms Sunland Park into a dynamic hub of economic growth, cultural richness, and community-focused development

In the southwest corner of New Mexico, where the sun kisses the horizon with a promise of new opportunities, lies the City of Sunland Park. This unique community, rich in cultural heritage and buoyed by a spirit of progress, is a pivotal juncture where history and modernity converge. With its strategic location, Sunland Park is a crossroads of diverse cultures and a hub of economic vitality.

Mayor Javier Perea articulates this vividly, portraying the city as a dynamic intersection. “We’re one of the fastest-growing cities in New Mexico,” he asserts. His pride is palpable as he speaks of Sunland Park’s unique position at the convergence of Texas, New Mexico, and Mexico. While presenting diverse challenges, this location also opens doors to unparalleled opportunities, particularly highlighted by the recent legalization of cannabis.

This intersectionality extends beyond mere geography and legislation. Sunland Park’s cultural fabric is woven from the threads of its rich history and art, deeply influenced by its binational, bicultural community. “It’s always been a pass-through,” Mayor Perea reflects on the area’s historical significance.

The narrative of Sunland Park is a mosaic of movement and exchange, tracing back to times when the land was entirely under Mexican sovereignty. Despite the shifts over the centuries, this essence of transit – for trade, commerce, and people – remains a constant, imbuing the city with a sense of perpetual dynamism.

Navigating the Housing Challenge

As many American cities grapple with housing shortages and escalating prices, Sunland Park stands at an intriguing crossroads of challenge and opportunity. Under Mayor Perea’s stewardship, the city is witnessing a significant influx of new residents, drawn by the allure of its comparatively affordable living costs. While beneficial in many ways, this influx brings with it the pressing need to expand and diversify housing options.

Mayor Perea acknowledges the impact of the national housing shortage on Sunland Park, noting a consequential rise in home prices. “We started seeing many people migrating from other parts of the United States to El Paso because of the lower cost of living,” he explains. This migration has sparked a surge in the local housing market, propelling Sunland Park into a phase of rapid residential development. With an ambitious vision, the mayor forecasts adding up to 5000 new homes in the region. These projections build upon the impressive growth achieved during his tenure, with thousands of homes constructed in the past decade.

Getting into specifics, Mayor Perea elaborates on the city’s strategic approach to addressing the housing stock challenge. Sunland Park is not merely expanding but innovatively diversifying its residential landscape. Recent zoning changes across the city have paved the way for various housing formats. “We have allowed for single residential homes,” he says, acknowledging the continued demand for traditional housing. Yet, there’s a forward-looking aspect to this strategy.

The mayor highlights the council’s approval of higher-density developments, particularly in Sunland Park’s entertainment district and along major commercial streets. The vision includes multi-level developments that smartly combine commercial spaces on the ground floor with housing above. This approach addresses housing needs and aims to reduce municipal costs and promote a vibrant, dense urban environment.


Balancing Growth and Charm

In the face of rapid development, Sunland Park confronts the delicate task of harmonizing its expansion with its rich heritage and allure. Mayor Perea addresses this intricate balancing act, underscoring the pivotal role of strategic planning and community engagement in this process.

“The master plan you establish with your community is crucial,” Mayor Perea emphasizes. This plan, adopted a little over five years ago, marks a new chapter in Sunland Park’s history. For the first time in its 40-year history, the city has a cohesive blueprint guiding its growth. Mayor Perea points out that confronting and acknowledging the challenges, such as aging infrastructure and the need for expansion, is a fundamental step.

This inclusive approach to city planning has unearthed a surprising trend: community-wide support for higher-density living. Mayor Perea explains the changing preferences of the younger generations, who are increasingly drawn to the convenience and lifestyle offered by mixed-use developments.

“They want to live in an apartment where you can get your groceries downstairs or maybe even go to a bar after work and then head up to your apartment loft or condo,” he explains. This shift in living preferences is a critical insight, steering the city’s development towards multifunctional spaces that blend residential, commercial, and leisure facilities, all interconnected by efficient public transportation.

Mayor Perea credits this receptiveness for helping the city council embrace mixed-use development, particularly in the envisioned downtown area and major corridors. “It does take a lot of conversations, a lot of meetings with the public,” he admits, acknowledging the effort required to align the diverse aspirations of the community with the realities of urban development.

Enhancing Quality of Life Through Parks and Recreation

In urban development, parks and recreation often become a cornerstone for community well-being. Mayor Perea articulates this aspect enthusiastically, detailing Sunland Park’s initiatives that underscore a commitment to enhancing public spaces for its residents.

“The city has approved bonds for quality of life issues, including improving public parks across the entire community,” he shares. This initiative, overwhelmingly supported by the community, has already seen the issuance of the first round of bonds, with more to follow in the coming years. The objective is clear: to create accessible, livable outdoor spaces promoting healthy lifestyles.

A significant highlight in these efforts is the transformation of the city’s largest park, the sports complex. With an injection of $800,000, the complex is poised to receive a state-of-the-art artificial turf for soccer, elevating it to a new standard.

But Mayor Perea’s vision extends beyond just aesthetic or functional upgrades. He sees an opportunity to tap into the lucrative sports tourism market, a billion-dollar industry. “Our entire region is missing out on that,” he asserts, signaling a strategic move to position Sunland Park as a critical player in this domain.

The forthcoming inauguration of the multi-purpose center further illustrates the city’s ambition. This $4 million project, supported by state government and municipal funds, promises to be a multifaceted space offering panoramic views of the Franklin Mountains and the Rio Grande, destined to host various events. “We want to create spaces where people want to do a variety of things,” Mayor Perea explains, highlighting the diverse amenities, including a skate park, that cater to different interests.

Beyond the parks, Mayor Perea touches on a broader initiative to interconnect the city’s scattered landscapes. The development of the river trail along the Rio Grande is a crucial project aiming to beautify the area and foster connectivity. This trail bridges Sunland Park with neighboring El Paso, enhancing accessibility and inviting more people into the city’s fold.

Sunland Park’s Entertainment District

Sunland Park’s ongoing evolution into a vibrant urban center is perhaps most visibly encapsulated in the development of its entertainment district. Brimming with enthusiasm, Mayor Perea unveils the latest advancements in this area, a project that promises to enhance the city’s cultural and recreational landscape significantly.

“We have inspiring news for our entertainment district,” he begins, marking a significant milestone with the recent groundbreaking of an entertainment venue. This development, set to be completed within the next year, is part of a broader vision to establish Sunland Park as a premier entertainment destination. The city’s collaboration with Independent Nation is a strategic move to bring this vision to fruition, leveraging existing attractions like the Sunland Park racetrack and casino and an amusement park recently acquired by Traders Village.

“This will also be an amusement park expansion,” Mayor Perea notes, indicating the project’s scope. The proximity of Cristo Rey Mountain, a site attracting over 30,000 pilgrims annually, and the Rio Grande offers a unique natural setting that complements the artificial attractions. “We have water running through the middle of our city,” he points out, an element that has been underutilized but holds immense potential for development.


A Decade of Leadership: Mayor Perea’s Journey and Vision

Celebrating over a decade at the helm of Sunland Park, Mayor Perea reflects on his tenure with sincerity and optimism. His journey as mayor, spanning 11.5 years and now into his fourth term, has been challenging and enriching.

His tenure has positioned him as a mentor and guide for upcoming elected officials across New Mexico. “I never thought I’d be in this particular position,” he admits, embracing his role as a teacher and mentor. His involvement in training sessions in Santa Fe for other elected officials highlights his focus on nurturing leadership across the state, not just within Sunland Park.

The driving force behind his decision to serve a fourth term is the ambitious Port of Entry project. This endeavor, aimed at establishing a new border crossing between Sunland Park and Juarez, Mexico, represents a significant infrastructural development and a symbol of his dedication to the city’s progress.

“This is the closest we have ever been to obtaining the presidential permit,” Mayor Perea shares with a sense of anticipation. The project, now officially recognized on the Mexican side, awaits crucial environmental reviews and financial planning on the American side.

Vision 2024: Prioritizing Economic Development and Community Well-being

As Sunland Park strides into 2024, Mayor Perea’s priorities are crystal clear: economic development and enriching community life remain at the forefront of his agenda. His vision is ambitious yet grounded in the realities of the city’s evolving needs and potential.

“Economic development and the diversification of our community is key,” he asserts, highlighting the critical need to break away from being solely a bedroom community to El Paso. The objective is to carve a distinct identity for Sunland Park, ensuring sustainability and continued growth. This involves enhancing the local economy and diversifying it with initiatives like tourism and the port of entry project.

But economic growth is not Mayor Perea’s only focus. He is equally committed to nurturing the city’s youth, recognizing them as the cornerstone of the community’s future. His administration is working towards forging stronger ties with school districts and optimizing the use of city and educational spaces. The goal is to foster an environment where young people thrive and choose to stay and contribute to their community post-education.

Underpinning these endeavors is a significant improvement in Sunland Park’s financial health. The city has witnessed a remarkable transformation from a municipal budget of $5.8 million in 2012 to over $11 million in the current fiscal year. This financial upswing is enabling the city to expand its services, enhancing the quality of life for its residents. “We have brought some changes into the community,” Mayor Perea notes, attributing part of this fiscal growth to the burgeoning cannabis industry, which adds a new dimension to the city’s revenue streams.

Mayor Perea’s leadership paints a picture of a city in transformation, actively shaping its future with strategic economic initiatives, community-focused projects, and a dedication to nurturing its youth. His tenure, marked by significant financial growth and developmental strides, sets a strong foundation for Sunland Park’s journey. As 2024 unfolds, the mayor’s vision of a self-sustaining, vibrant, and youth-centric Sunland Park takes a more definitive shape, steering the city toward a promising and prosperous future.

Click The Cover To View Or Download The Brochure


City of Sunland Park, New Mexico

What: A vibrant and rapidly developing city at the crossroads of New Mexico, Texas, and Mexico, focusing on economic growth, community development, and infrastructure improvement

Where: New Mexico



Sunland Park Racetrack & Casino –

Come experience Sunland Park Racetrack & Casino’s wide selection of the newest slot machines, video poker machines, and electronic table games. Discover the thrill of horse racing either simulcast or live racing year-round. The best gaming experience in the Southwest.

It is where the FUN in the Sun begins!

Heritage Development Group –

Nine Degrees Architecture + Design, Inc. –


Western Playland Amusement Park –


February 2024

You may also like