San Benito museum project works to offset delay

SAN BENITO — Foundation work has pushed back the construction timeline of the San Benito Cultural Heritage Museum.

The delay led the project to fall about a week behind schedule but Weslaco-based Jones Construction plans to work weekends to meet the timeline, architect Meg Jorn told city commissioners last night.

City Manager Manuel De La Rosa said construction crews “had to tear out part of the foundation,” setting the project back.

But the contractor plans to meet the contract’s completion date, set for the first week of September, said Jorn of Megamorphosis Architecture and Interior Design in Harlingen.

About a month into the project, the city can expect a change order to pay for telephone and computer wiring, De La Rosa told commissioners.

Jorn said telephone and computer wiring were not factored into the project’s plans.

“It’s not an oversight,” De La Rosa said. “We now know what we now need. We’re working with the contractor to meet his timeline and our future needs.”

De La Rosa said he had not received a cost estimate for the change order.

So far, crews have poured the foundation, laying electrical lines and underground plumbing while erecting the building’s structural shell, Jorn said.

In the meeting, commissioners approved the construction project’s first payment of $266,095.

In January, the city and Jones Construction entered into a $1.69 million contract to build the 6,932-square-foot building off Heywood Street on 2.18 acres at San Benito Plaza, near the Community Building and the Narciso Martinez Cultural Arts Center.

To fund the project, the city is using a $1 million U.S. Economic Development Administration grant and about $700,000 set aside from its general fund, De La Rosa said.

The building will house the Freddy Fender Museum, the Texas Conjunto Hall of Fame and Museum and the San Benito History Museum, allowing them to expand their exhibits.

Since 2008, the three museums have shared a 1,000-square-foot area in the city’s Community Building.

Plans call for construction of a building designed in the shape of a guitar.

A guitar-shaped entrance will front Heywood Street.

For years, city leaders have planned the museum to showcase San Benito’s history while drawing tourists here.

City leaders planned the museum to help make San Benito a tourist destination.

Officials are counting on the museum to draw tourism to the city considered by many to be the birthplace of conjunto music.

Meanwhile, the museum will help transform the city’s downtown area amid a revitalization project, Mayor Celeste Sanchez has said.