Leaders put design caps on

HARLINGEN — Architects are getting a hand in designing the interior of the $14.8 million convention center.

City commissioners will help design the 43,700-square-foot building’s interior at a workshop on Wednesday, City Manager Dan Serna said yesterday.

“We’re going to give some direction to the designers and architects on the interior of the convention center,” Serna said.

Last month, commissioners asked the architectural firm of Butler, Rosenbury & Partners of Springfield, Mo., to give the building South Texas flair.

Commissioners, on the recommendation of focus groups, asked the architects to tweak their design to feature windows with tall arches and other South Texas accents.

The project’s design phase is expected to be finalized within about two months, Serna said.

San Antonio-based developer BC Lynd, which will build an attached 150-room Hilton Garden Inn, is working with the architectural firm to design the convention center’s exterior.

As part of an agreement, the city will fund construction of the convention center while BC Lynd will build the hotel.

In September, commissioners approved the convention center’s interior floor plan and site layout.

The convention center, with a parking lot including 623 spaces, is planned on eight acres at the corner of Brazil Road and Teege Avenue in the Harlingen Heights business district.

The building’s floor plan, which will hold as many as 1,503 people, includes a 17,100-square-foot main ballroom featuring the capacity to be divided into smaller meeting areas.

A corridor will connect the convention center to the hotel, which will include a parking lot with 149 spaces, on 2.3 acres at the corner of Teege Avenue and Harlingen Heights.

The site layout includes an additional 43,300-foot pad planned for a restaurant.

Based on Commissioner Tudor Uhlhorn’s suggestion, commissioners requested the convention center feature a pavilion near the building’s boulevard-style entry way.

The pavilion, which could host weddings and outdoor entertainment, will be built along a landscaped area near the boulevard-style entry way which will include a roundabout feature allowing for smooth traffic flow.

Officials expect the project’s groundbreaking to be held as early as April, Serna said.