Laredo: Redesign of Historic Plaza Theatre Underway
Feature Photo: The historic Plaza Theatre on Hidalgo Street. Image: Google Streets.
by Adolfo Pesquera
Laredo (Webb County) — City Council awarded a contract just before the holidays for the Plaza Theatre Renovations-Phase I, and the selected architect has begun the process for its revival.
At their Dec. 7, 2020 regular session, the council members approved the $238,300 contract with Able City LLC. The goal of the restoration is to create a multi-purpose performing arts center.
Phase I includes the assessing existing conditions of the historic downtown landmark with 3D laser scanning, conducting visioning sessions that include community engagement and development of a master plan.
Able City is collaborating with a consultant, AMS Planning and Research, to develop a business and management plan to define performing arts programs, the facility operations and business plan.
The architect will produce concept designs, cost estimates and identify funding sources and grants for the renovation.
Once the City Council is ready to proceed to Phase II, Able City will move to the schematic designs and then to design development, construction documents, and construction administration.
The Plaza Theatre, 1018 Hidalgo Street, was built in 1946-1947 in the Art Modern style. It had two seating areas–900 seats in the lower section and 490 seats in the balcony. It has an area of 15,253 square feet, according to Webb County Appraisal District records.
The city acquired the defunct theatre in 1999 with the hope of restoring it in a way that would further spur downtown economic development.
Interior view of the Plaza Theatre, as seen from a balcony seat. Courtesy: Plaza Theatre Facebook page.
Some repairs were done in 2004 to remove asbestos and repair a leaky roof. In 2008, the marquee and blade sign and main entrance were renovated.
The scope of services states that every effort will be made to avoid adversely affecting original materials and design in the building’s restoration, or any preservation identified in a feasibility study that was conducted in 2001.
It further states that Able City “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.
“Design work is to be done on a fast track basis.”
There was no project timeline stipulated in the public documents.
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.