CVB might help fund convention center

HARLINGEN — The project to build a $16.7 million convention center might be taking a big bite out of the Harlingen Convention & Visitors Bureau’s fund balance.

Today, city commissioners are expected to consider staff’s request to take $339,006 from the CVB’s $586,982 fund balance to fund costs associated with the convention center.

The additional funds would cover architectural fees as well as design and inventory costs, City Manager Dan Serna said yesterday.

Serna said about $40,000 would go to the architect Geoffrey H. Butler, whose payment is based on a percentage of the convention center’s construction costs.

In July, construction costs jumped from about $10.7 million to $12.7 million to fund added features such as a brick exterior, a pavilion and an expanded porte-cochere, Serna said.

As a result, he said, the architect’s fees will increase in proportion to the jump in construction costs.

Serna said an estimated $100,000 would also fund part of the convention center’s inventory, such as silverware, plates and tablecloths.

Meanwhile, a $200,000 contingency fund would help design two entryway walls, possibily with a mosaic, Serna said.

Serna said any unspent money would return to the CVB budget.

While the city funds construction of the convention center on eight acres at the corner of Brazil Road and Teege Avenue, San Antonio-based BC Lynd Hospitality will build an attached 150-room Hilton Garden Inn.

As part of a finance plan, the city will use $9.7 million generated through the Community Improvement Board’s sales tax and $3.8 million in hotel occupancy tax revenue to pay off the debt.

The city also will use $1.96 million from property tax revenue generated through Harlingen’s three tax increment financing reinvestment zones.

Serna said the 44,436-square-foot convention center, whose construction is expected to start next week, is projected to be completed in September 2018.