Laredo: City Council Agrees to Restore Plaza Theater & Renovate Children’s Library at Bruni Plaza
Feature Photo (above): Bruni Plaza, looking west from the southeast corner. Image: Google Streets.
by Adolfo Pesquera
Laredo (Webb County) — City Council has agreed to a proposal made by Council Member Roberto Balli, District 8, to use proceeds from the sale of Civic Center to convert the library at Bruni Plaza into a children’s library, and to restore the historic Plaza Theater as a multi-purpose theater for performing arts.
Balli proposed renovating the Bruni Plaza Branch Library, 1120 San Bernardo Ave., by having its services focus on children. As a children’s library, it would also have amenities such as a secured outdoor play area and various new interactive programs.
Balli’s proposal was the last order of business during the council’s June 15 session. He opened his pitch by stating that the local economy is hurting because of the impact of coronavirus. He suggested this would be one way to generate some jobs and give the community a morale boost.
The Bruni Plaza branch library has an area of 15,315 square feet, but until recently had been partially occupied by the Building and Planning Department staff. He reminded everyone that restoring the aging public library has been on their wish list, but to date has been an unfunded project.
The other project involves restoration of the historic Plaza Theater at 1018 Hidalgo Street, built circa 1946-1947.
Some council members wanted assurance that the Plaza Theater would serve many of the functions that the former Civic Center offered, such as being a venue for ballet recitals. It will be up to the architect, yet to be selected, and city leaders to reach consensus on how the open air plaza will change in that direction.
However, Balli assured the others that the theater be multi-purpose.
The Bruni Plaza and library building occupy an entire city block in downtown Laredo. The public square is bounded by San Bernardo Avenue (Business U.S. 35) on the east, Washington Street on the south, San Augustin Avenue on the west, and Moctezuma Street to the north.
Google Map highlighting the Bruni Plaza property.
A condition of Balli’s motion was that when scoring architects and general contractors on future Request for Qualifications solicitations, preference be given to local businesses.
Balli also noted that the location already has a parking lot, however, it just has a narrow strip of parking to the north that is parallel to the railroad track.
VBX will follow this development on Project ID 2020-4B4B.
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.