Feature Photo: The historic Plaza Theater on Hidalgo Street in downtown Laredo. Image: Google Streets.
by Adolfo Pesquera
Laredo (Webb County) — A hometown architectural firm was selected out of 10 firms that responded to a Request for Qualifications for the renovation of the Laredo Plaza Theatre.
Able City Inc. was chosen by City Council at their Sept. 8 session to be the consultant on the renovation of a historic city facility.
This project is one of two that were first reported in the VBX article of June 23, 2020. On June 15, City Council approved the allocation of all funds from the sale of Civic Center to the downtown children’s library (Bruni Library), and to renovate the Plaza Theatre (located six blocks south of the library) as a multi-purpose theater, and any additional parking facilities needed for the two projects.
There was a stated preference that local contractors and architects be prioritized in the selection process. The top three ranked consulting firms were Able City, ADM Group Inc. of Tempe, Arizona; and Alamo Architects Inc. of San Antonio.
Other respondents, in order of their ranking, were Cavazos & Associate Architects of Laredo; Hahnfeld Associates Architects and Planners Inc. of Fort Worth; JHS Architecture LLC of Laredo; Redline Architecture LLC of Laredo; Sepulveda Associates Architects Inc. of Laredo; Slay Architecture, Laredo office; and Steinberg Hart of Austin.
The city plans to restore Plaza Theatre, a 1946 post-war era structure building in 1947 in Art Modern style, to its original condition. Plaza Theatre operated as a 1,586-seat theater consisting of two separate sitting areas–a 900-seat lower section and a 490-seat balcony section. The theater featured first-run American films and was one of downtown’s major attractions.
The historic restoration project has the additional benefit of being an economic development opportunity for low income persons. Its renovation is expected to generate activity that will further spur economic development in the surrounding Central Business District.
The city acquired the theater in 1999 and commissioned a feasibility study in 2001 to evaluate its possible reuse.
The RFQ stated that every effort shall be made to avoid adversely affecting original materials and design in the building’s restoration or any preservation identified in the feasibility study.
“The Consultant shall coordinate (as needed) with all public agencies, utility companies, attend stakeholder meetings, committee meetings and City Council
meetings. Furthermore, the design shall comply with all City, State, and Federal Regulations including but not limited to the … State Historic Preservation Officer, Texas Department of Licensing and Regulations., etc.”
VBX Project ID 2020-4B4B.