San Benito Heritage Center ‘substantially complete’

SAN BENITO — It’s apparently as good as done.

Yesterday marked the federal deadline by which the $1.7 million project to build the San Benito Cultural Heritage Center was supposed to be completed.

And after touring the project site, city officials “accepted” the 6,932-square-foot building as “substantially complete,” spokeswoman Martha McClain stated yesterday afternoon.

“We met all the (federal) requirements,” City Manager Manuel De La Rosa told city commissioners in a meeting last night.

Next, McClain said, the project’s architect was expected to certify the building as “substantially complete.”

“At the conclusion of today’s inspection at the museum construction site, the city officially accepted the building as substantially complete,” McClain stated. “This will meet the city’s contractual obligations with the EDA,” — the U.S. Economic Development Administration.

Last night, architect Steven Land Tillotson told city commissioners the project came in $41,800 under budget.

“This project is kind of finishing on time today — and also under budget,” Tillotson, the project’s lead architect with Muñoz & Co. in San Antonio, said.

Tillotson said crews are expected to wrap up the job within 30 days.

“The building — all the components that need to be there — are no site,” De La Rosa said.

After about nine months of construction, the project was about 99.5 percent complete, City Commissioner Esteban Rodriguez said in an interview.

“All they’re doing right now is tying up a couple of loose ends, like flashing,” Rodriguez said.

Yesterday morning, crews worked on the building’s finishing touches under an elaborate tile mosaic running along the building’s guitar-shaped exterior.

As part of the project, the U.S. Economic Development Administration, which gave the city a $1 million grant to help fund construction, gives the city 30 days after the deadline to file documentation, Rodriguez said.

“We still have to go in and make sure it’s all up to standards,” he said.

Rodriguez said it was his understanding the EDA could have stopped funding the project after yesterday if the city failed to complete the building by the deadline.

“The city is grateful to the EDA for its generous grant for the construction of the San Benito Cultural Heritage Museum, a facility that will further enhance the appreciation of the arts throughout South Texas,” McClain stated.

For nine months, Rey Avila, founder of the Texas Conjunto Hall of Fame and Museum, has watched the building go up, gauging the project’s progress.

Jones Construction has done a good job, he said.

“It’s all professional construction,” Avila said. “As far as I know, everything’s OK. It looks good. I don’t see anything wrong.”

Construction timeline

January — construction begins

Feb. 7 — groundbreaking

Sept. 15 — city construction deadline

Sept. 27 — federal grant deadline

San Benito Cultural Heritage Center

San Benito History Museum

Texas Conjunto Hall of Fame and Museum

Freddy Fender Museum