Harlingen: UTRGV/HCISD Campus Ready to Break Ground This Summer
Feature Illustration (above): Concept rendering of the UTRGV/Early College High School building. Courtesy: Gomez Mendez Saenz Inc.
by Adolfo Pesquera
Harlingen (Cameron County) — The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley anticipates starting construction by June on a new campus being financed and operated in collaboration with Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District.
The building itself is estimated at about 60,000 square feet and comes with a total project cost of about $14 million. The educational institutions agreed to split the cost of construction 50/50, in an memorandum of understanding that was negotiated a year ago.
However, it was not until January 2020 that the Harlingen City Commission finalized a real estate agreement with UTRGV, essentially transferring ownership to the university. The 6.7-acre project site is undeveloped agricultural land located north-by-northwest of Medical Drive and Doctors Memorial Drive.
Since about March 2019, the UTRGV and Harlingen school district have shared oversight of the architectural/engineering project team that has been designing the building.
The architect firm is Gomez Mendez Saenz Inc. of Brownsville, and David Monreal is the lead designer, according to Marta Salinas Hovar, UTRGV’s associate vice president of Facilities Planning & Operations. Ethos Engineering in Harlingen is the MEP.
“The project is under design. It will be put out for competitive sealed bid around April,” Salinas Hovar told VBX.
Google Earth view of the project site for the UTRGV/ECHS campus.
The bid procurement process will go through the Harlingen CISD purchasing office, she said. VBX is tracking this project at Project ID 2020-1F8E.
Known as the UTRGV/Early College High School campus, the concept is to prepare hundreds of students for a successful experience when they go on to university life. Under the guidance of UTRGV professors, ECHS students earn up to 60 hours of college credit by the time they complete high school.
They leave Harlingen CISD with their academic core, or are on a fast track toward careers in engineering, computer science or teaching.
The new building, once in operation, marks the first phase of UTRGV’s goal for establishing a baccalaureate programs in Harlingen. UTRGV has campuses in Edinburg and Brownsville, and an educational medical program in Harlingen at a separate site.
This project was not included in the UT System Capital Improvement Program. Salinas Hovar said that step was not required because the UTRGV portion cost was below the $10 million threshhold.
The building is expected to be completed about 12 to 13 months after construction begins.
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.