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Featured: Top images – Two perspectives of the $35.6 million Interdisciplinary Engineering and Academic Studies Building (IEASB), designed by Overland Partners Architects of San Antonio, and to be constructed by Vaughn Construction of San Antonio. Bottom image – the southern portion of the Edinburg Campus of The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, with the location of the IEASB highlighted in burnt orange for easy reference. With about 53,400 gross square feet of space, the facility will be located in the heart of the campus, west of the Library and just north of the Student Union. 

Artist Renderings Courtesy of OVERLAND PARTNERS ARCHITECTS

The availability of $20 million in state funds to significantly improve the drainage of heavy rains in downtown Edinburg will benefit many residences, businesses, government facilities, residences, and the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, including its School of Medicine, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation has announced. The $20 million windfall, part of $400 million in state money budgeted for numerous Texas roadway projects in Hidalgo County, has been made possible as a result of ongoing efforts by the City of Edinburg, Hidalgo County, and the Edinburg EDC to build up the infrastructure for the proposed $150 million Hidalgo County Courthouse, which will built downtown, on the county-owned Courthouse Square. “We are very excited and very happy that along with this great new project ($150 million Hidalgo County Courthouse) that is happening in our city, we have $20 million that is basically being spent in the city of Edinburg for drainage,” said Mayor García. “This money for the drainage will help alleviate decades of flooding in the downtown area, not just on the Courthouse Square, but in areas surrounding the square that have flooded in the past.” Precinct 4 Hidalgo County Commissioner Joseph Palacios, who represents Edinburg, said the state money is being funneled through the Weslaco-based Hidalgo County Metropolitan Planning Organization, which is a federally-funded program that addresses the mobility goals of the cities in Hidalgo County. “We were very fortunate to secure $20 million for downtown Edinburg. This project will focus on road and drainage improvements right at the Courthouse Square, westbound all the way to the main outfall at Jackson Road and State Highway 107,” said Palacios. “Beneficiaries of this project are the commercial interests, the city, the university and the Courthouse Square.” According to Hidalgo County Judge Ramón García, the estimated value of the commercial and residential properties that will benefit from the drainage improvements – not including UTRGV or county or city facilities in the area – is estimated at $150 million. The engineering work is already underway, the county judge added. The Edinburg EDC Board of Directors is comprised of Mayor Richard García as President, Harvey Rodríguez, Jr. as Vice President, Elías Longoria, Jr. as Secretary/Treasurer, and Richard Rupert and Dr. Peter Dabrowski as Members. Agustín García, Jr. is Executive Director for the Edinburg EDC, which is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg Mayor and Edinburg City Council. Agustín García, Jr., Mayor Richard García and Hidalgo County Judge Ramón García are not related.

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Edinburg’s Downtown, Courthouse Square, City Hall, UTRGV, and $150 million in business and residential structures to benefit significantly from $20 million in state funding to improve drainage

By DAVID A. DÍAZ
Legislativemedia@aol.com

The availability of $20 million in state funds to significantly improve the drainage of heavy rains in downtown Edinburg will benefit many residences, businesses, government facilities, and the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, including its School of Medicine, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation has announced.

The Edinburg EDC Board of Directors is comprised of Mayor Richard García as President, Harvey Rodríguez, Jr. as Vice President, Elías Longoria, Jr. as Secretary/Treasurer, and Richard Rupert and Dr. Peter Dabrowski as Members.

Agustín García, Jr. is Executive Director for the Edinburg EDC, which is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg Mayor and Edinburg City Council.

Agustín García, Jr. and Mayor Richard García are not related.

“We are very excited and very happy that along with this great new project ($150 million Hidalgo County Courthouse) that is happening in our city, we have $20 million that is basically being spent in the city of Edinburg for drainage,” said Mayor García. “This money for the drainage will help alleviate decades of flooding in the downtown area, not just on the Courthouse Square, but in areas surrounding the square that have flooded in the past.”

The $20 million windfall, part of $400 million in state money budgeted for numerous Texas roadway projects in Hidalgo County, has been made possible as a result of ongoing efforts by the City of Edinburg, Hidalgo County, and the Edinburg EDC to build up the infrastructure for the proposed $150 million Hidalgo County Courthouse, which will built downtown, on the county-owned Courthouse Square.

Like many Texas county seats, Downtown Edinburg is designed around a Courthouse Square. The Courthouse Square is accessed by two main state thoroughfares – Highway 107 and Business Highway 281. The Courthouse Square is filled with parking.

Immediately west of the Courthouse Square is the existing Hidalgo County Courthouse. Surrounding the Courthouse Square are several historic buildings, retail spaces, Edinburg City Hall, and the Edinburg EDC complex. A few blocks from the Courthouse Square is the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and its School of Medicine, along with dozens of small and large retail establishments and residences.

Precinct 4 Hidalgo County Commissioner Joseph Palacios, who represents Edinburg, said the state money is being funneled through the Weslaco-based Hidalgo County Metropolitan Planning Organization, which is a federally-funded program that addresses the mobility goals of the cities in Hidalgo County.

“We were very fortunate to secure $20 million for downtown Edinburg. This project will focus on road and drainage improvements right at the Courthouse Square, westbound all the way to the main outfall at Jackson Road and State Highway 107,” said Palacios. “Beneficiaries of this project are the commercial interests, residences, the city, the university and the Courthouse Square.”

According to Hidalgo County Judge Ramón García, the estimated value of the commercial and residential properties that will benefit from the drainage improvements – not including UTRGV or county or city facilities in the area – is estimated at $150 million. The engineering work is already underway, the county judge added.

County Judge Ramón García, Mayor Richard García, and Edinburg EDC Executive Director Agustin García, Jr., are not related.

The Hidalgo County MPO, as it is more commonly known, includes elected officials from the various cities, including Edinburg, who work with Hidalgo County, transit providers, and the Texas Department of Transportation to plan for the future transportation needs of the county.

Hidalgo County, of which Edinburg is the county seat, is one of the larger population centers in Texas, with more than 840,000 residents as of July 2015, according to U.S. Census estimates.

Palacios has consistently praised his colleagues on the Hidalgo County Commissioners Court, as well as the Edinburg City Council – including Councilmember David Torres and Councilmember Homer Jasso, Jr., the most recent city representatives on the Hidalgo County MPO – for helping secure support from the other MPO members for the $20 million allocation.

The Precinct 4 county commissioner also noted that Hidalgo County will be responsible for all key aspects of the Courthouse Square drainage project.

“The county will be the lead agency. It (contracts for work) will be let by the Texas Department of Transportation, and all cost overruns will be the responsibility of the state. We are merely clearing the environmental process, updating the road study, as well as acquisition services,” Palacios said.

Among its duties, Hidalgo County is responsible for public involvement, schematic hydrologic studies, environmental assessment, traffic circulation study updates, surveying, geotechnical, construction material testing, right-of-way acquisition services, plans, specifications, and estimates (PS&E) design, construction management services for the roadway and drainage improvements associated with the Business 281/State Highway 107 Intersection Project.

County Judge García also added that parking concerns for the proposed courthouse are being addressed in the planning process.

“There is plenty of parking. More than 1,15o parking spaces are currently available on county-owned property within easy walking distance to the courthouse,” he said. “In addition, the City of Edinburg is currently analyzing financial models and resources available to them to construct a parking structure that would add another 1,000 parking spaces to serve the courthouse and downtown area. That would bring available parking to more than 2,000 spaces.”

The county judge also sought to reassure local and county residents that once construction begins for the new courthouse – he hopes groundbreaking will be held in early 2018 – mobility will not be negatively affected in the area.

“The Hidalgo County Commissioners Court and our staffs have worked with stakeholders to develop a plan that allows business to continue at the current courthouse while the new courthouse is constructed,” County Judge García said. “That plan includes an off-site staging area for the construction equipment and covers traffic flow and parking.”

SIX NEW BUILDINGS CONCRETE PROOF OF THE GROWTH OF UTRGV IN 2016

As 2016 ended, The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley marked its bricks-and-mortar growth with four buildings currently under construction and two more buildings recently approved for construction by The UT System Board of Regents.

Construction of all six facilities dramatically will expand capacity on both campuses:

• The Edinburg Interdisciplinary Engineering and Academic Studies Building (IEASB), about 53,400 gross square feet, will be located in the heart of the Edinburg Campus, west of the Library and just north of the Student Union.

This building will provide flexible instructional space with an emphasis on engineering. It will include six engineering teaching labs, two discipline-specific computer labs, eight 60-seat general classrooms, offices for faculty and staff, and support spaces for graduate and doctoral students.

The Edinburg IEASB is financed primarily by tuition revenue bond proceeds of $30,600,000; additionally, $5 million will come from UT System Permanent University Fund bond proceeds.

• The 115,000-gross-square-foot, $70 million Science Research Building on the Edinburg Campus, located adjacent to the current three-story science building that was built in 1998. The four-story structure will include classrooms, teaching labs, faculty and researcher offices, an instrumentation research and teaching core, and research labs supporting biological and physical sciences, including biology, physics, chemistry, math, pre-med and environmental studies.

• The approximately 85,000-square-foot UTRGV Research Building at DHR– a medical research, education and clinical facility – broke ground in October and will be leased to UTRGV in a public-private partnershipbetween the university and Doctors Hospital at Renaissance and DHR Real Estate Management, L.L.C. The facility, currently under construction, is located at 2300 E. Dove Ave. in McAllen.

• The Brownsville Multipurpose Academic Center (MPAC), about 55,700 gross square feet, will be built directly opposite Main building on the existing parking lot, south of University Boulevard.

To offset the loss of 288 parking spaces, a new parking lot with 296 spaces will be built on property recently purchased across the street from the Casa Bella student residence facility. Sidewalks will connect the new parking area with existing sidewalks to the west.

This building will provide flexible instructional space for multiple disciplines, with an emphasis on physics. It will include four physics teaching labs, eight 45-seat classrooms, two multi-use classrooms, six 30-seat general classrooms, one math computer teaching lab, and offices and support spaces. The Brownsville MPAC is financed by $36,432,000 in tuition revenue bond proceeds.

• The 102,551-square-foot, $54 million Academic Building on the Brownsville Campus, located east of Main. This facility will consist of two structures, each three stories, and will support general academics, science teaching labs, music instruction and recitals, and provide flexible spaces for study and student collaboration.

• The $1.2 million STARGATE facility at Boca Chica Beach, funded by a U.S. Economic Development Administration grant. It will serve as a space for radio frequency laboratories, classrooms, business incubator offices and warehouse space at the STARGATE Technology Park, located near the SpaceX Commercial Launch Facility on State Highway 4.

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Cheryl Taylor contributed to this story. For more information on the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation and the City of Edinburg, please log on to http://edinburgedc.com or to http://www.facebook.com/edinburgedc

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