HARLINGEN — The decline and then rise of the historic Pearl Brewery in San Antonio will be the subject of an educational seminar on building urban cultures.

The old brewery now is the center of a multi-use complex with more than 400 apartments, 13 restaurants, the 146-room boutique Hotel Emma, a dozen retail stores and thousands of square feet of Class A office space.

Just 15 years ago, that wasn’t the case. The complex was a mismatched set of buildings dating from 1894 to 1981 in a setting of an asphalt and concrete urban desert.

There was a single tree on the site.

The Pearl’s revitalization triggered a neighborhood growth spurt which led to five new apartment complexes, three new townhouse developments and more. Could it be a model for Harlingen?

An educational seminar about the Pearl and urban restoration and development will be held April 6 at the 5th at the Reese from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

“The reason we are having this particular seminar in Harlingen is because I felt like Harlingen would not only be a central location for this talk but we also tried to make it relevant with the current dynamic going on in downtown Harlingen — preservation and public art,” said Pedro Ayala, a McAllen urban designer and owner of Building Urban and Innovative Land Development, or BUILD.

“The Pearl Brewery complex is a shining example of what historic buildings can do to generate an elevated sense of urbanity even from a brownfield site,” Ayala said yesterday.

“I know Harlingen and surrounding towns like Mercedes, Weslaco, San Benito and Brownsville are all starting to really invest time and resources into their historic urban cores,” he added. “These distinguished speakers will provide us with key insight as to how we may be able to pursue similar projects in the Rio Grande Valley.”

Speakers are preservation architect Jeffrey Fetzer of J. Fetzer LLC and artist Ansen Seale, a McAllen native who now lives in San Antonio.

Fetzer has worked on some of the state’s most iconic landmarks, including restoration work on the Texas State Capitol.

Seale will speak to how historic preservation and public art merged to create the unique restoration of the Pearl Brewery possible.

The event is hosted by BUILD and Downtown Harlingen.

Sponsors include 5th at the Reese, Lone Star National Bank and Socialife News Magazine.

To register for the educational seminar online, go to www.BuildRGV.com/upcoming-events


WHAT — How the Pearl Brewery was resurrected

WHERE — 5th at the Reese banquet room, 202 S. First St.

WHEN — April 6 from 6 to 8 p.m.

REGISTER — Online registration at www.BuildRGV.com/upcoming-events