Edinburg City Council Anticipates Construction Start on Arts-Cultural Events Center by 1st Quarter 2022
Feature Illustration: Concept designs for the future South Texas Arts & Cultural Center in Edinburg. Source: ERO Architects.
by Adolfo Pesquera
Edinburg (Hidalgo County) — City Council recently selected the architect for the adaptive reuse and new construction expansion of the former Sam Houston Elementary School, which is to become the South Texas Arts & Cultural Center.
Following the recommendation of the city staff select committee, the council awarded the professional services contract on June 15 to Ero Architects, which was one of eight firms that submitted bids to a Request for Qualifications that was issued May 15. Ranked second and third, respectively, were Gignac Architects and Negrete & Kolar.
Performance terms stipulated in the RFQ require that Ero Architects complete the construction documents within six to eight months of the execution of the contract.
The proposed Arts & Cultural Center will anchor the west end of McIntyre Square, a master planned public space that will include an amphitheater and water gardens on the north side of the 300 block of West McIntyre Street.
Site plan for the amphitheater and water garden project. Sam Houston Elementary (in pink) will be converted and expanded in Phase 2 of the McIntyre Square redevelopment project.
The selection of the general contractor for the amphitheater and water gardens is currently actively bidding; bids are to be opened July 19. See VBX Project ID 2021-4F0C.
New construction for the amphitheater and water gardens is scheduled to begin by Aug. 30, according to a July 15 project report submitted to the state by the assigned architect, Alvarado Architects & Associates Inc. of Donna. The estimated cost is $1,250,000.
Meanwhile, demolition of the east and center section of the project site has been underway. On July 6, City Council amended the demolition contract, which was awarded April 20 to NM Contracting LLC, to add another building to be razed. The original contract was to remove the Old North Gym, the Old Sunrise Apartment building, and a concrete slab with underground tank.
The amended contract added the removal of the old Vision Academy building, 222 W. Kuhn Street. The site clearing is expected to be complete by July 31.
Arts & Cultural Center Scope of Work
The city of Edinburg has promoted this project to the public as the South Texas Arts & Cultural Center, however, its project name is Edinburg Arts, Culture and Event Center/Multi-Purpose Facility.
The goal is to construct a 40,000 square-foot multi-purpose building that will include space for events, conventions, arts, classrooms, and office space.
According to the RFQ, Sam Houston Elementary School was constructed in the 1920s. The city acquired the property from the Edinburg Consolidated Independent School District in December 2016.
The school was designed in a Spanish Mediterranean style and the city wants it preserved to the extent that is practical. It is, however, too small for the intended use. The school has a total area of 17,627 square feet, and this includes a 4,505 square-foot second floor and a 4,572 square-foot auditorium.
As a starting point on the design effort, city engineers provided Ero with the foundation and building envelope structural assessment prepared for the school building. Before construction can begin, Ero must provide at least two design alternatives and preliminary construction estimates for each funded component. The alternatives will be reviewed by the public and city management. The recommended alternative will be presented to City Council for final approval.
Construction is expected to be complete no later than June 2023.
“The current structure was not built for the proposed use we ask of it today. However, there are elements that make the site special and are asked to be maintained. The intent for this building is to feature local artists, host family friendly cultural events, and attract more visitors to the city. In addition, several city departments will be hosted in this multi-purpose building,” the RFQ states.
The multi-purpose facility shall have three major components–the event space, office space, and outdoor space.
The arts, culture and events space must have the capacity to accommodate a wide variety of large gatherings. It shall feature one large multi-purpose convention/ballroom/performance area of approximately 15,000 square feet that can be divided into classroom, studio and gallery art spaces. An additional 5,000 square-foot space shall be a lobby area for events and arts display, a café, and storage area.
The second major component will be an office and auxiliary space with approximately 20,000 square feet. The multipurpose facility is directly across North 8th Avenue from City Hall and plans include the relocation of several city departments into the new building. Uses will include office space, meeting rooms, a multimedia video and film production studio, and storage areas.
The outdoor space shall feature an outdoor terrace and/or place to serve as an outdoor event space.
Adolfo Pesquera (Reporter/Editor) is a veteran news journalist. He has worked for Hearst Corp., American Lawyer Media, News Corp and Freedom Communications. His work has been published in newspapers and magazines across the USA. He is a journalism graduate of UT-RGV. He writes, edits and creates digital pages for VBX.