Architects tapped for $1.3M City Hall renovation

HARLINGEN — The city has selected an architectural firm to help renovate City Hall.

Last night, city commissioners authorized City Manager Dan Serna to negotiate a contract with Megamorphosis, the highest-ranked of four firms vying for the job.

Megamorphosis’ previous work with the city helped lead a committee to rank it higher than ROFA Architects of McAllen, Gomez Mendez Saenz of Brownsville and Gignac Architects of Corpus Christi, which presented proposals for the $1.3 million renovation project.

“They’re all excellent firms,” Mayor Chris Boswell said. “It’s a good recommendation.”

A committee made up of Assistant City Manager Carlos Sanchez, City Engineer Javier Zamora, Planning Director Rodrigo Davila and Assistant City Engineer Martha Viada ranked the firms based on their professional qualifications, their project managers’ experience and ability, their understanding of the project and their familiarity with applicable rules and regulations.

The committee gave Harlingen-based Megamorphosis 1,150 points; ROFA 980 points; Gomez Mendez Saenz 910 points; and Gignac 900 points.

Megamorphosis has years of experience working on city projects, most recently the new fire station on Stuart Place Road.

Now, plans to renovate City Hall call for expanding the second-floor Town Hall meeting room — the site of meetings of the City Commission and city boards — from 1,620 square-feet to 2,250 square feet.

Much of the project will focus on the renovation of an adjacent meeting room used to hold executive sessions.

As part of the project, officials plan to turn second-floor finance offices into a 630-square-foot executive session chamber.

The renovation will allow city commissioners to step away from their conference table and directly walk into executive session chambers.

Currently, commissioners have to walk past the Town Hall meetings room’s audience to enter a narrow 630-square-foot executive session chamber, located at the very back of the room.

A new and wider 618-square-foot executive session chamber will allow commissioners to hold more private meetings.

Currently, audience members sitting in the Town Hall meeting room often can hear commissioners speaking in executive session chambers.

As part of the project, the renovation will move two upstairs finance officers to City Hall’s first-floor finance department.

In December, commissioners went ahead with plans to renovate City Hall about nine months after approving the city’s 10-year comprehensive plan recommending a “one-stop” city hall.

Despite the renovation project, a one-stop city hall remains one of the city’s goals.

Since 1950, the city’s headquartered its operations in the two-story brick City Hall building at 118 E. Tyler Ave.

In the early 1990s, the city expanded its offices into the Lon C. Hill building, just down the street at 502 E. Tyler.