Tuesday, February 14, 2006

A New Brownsville Convention Center Needed

The new $50M McAllen Convention Center under construction.

In the 1953, Brownsville built one of the most modern and advanced civic center in the US, which was also recognized internationally and won an award for its architectural style. There were plans in the 1990s to renovate it and even add a highrise hotel to attract more conventions to our area but instead, it was sold to UTB/TSC and Brownsville lost a civic center and any future hope of attracting conventions to Brownsville.

Instead of building a new convention center with the money received from UTB/TSC, was used, instead, to build a Brownsville Events Center costing into the tens of millions of dollars with a capacity of just 1,300 people. Albeit it is a beautiful building (I got married there last year and loved the place), it's not what it was intended for; a convention center. So much money went into this building to attract conventions to brownsville and ended up attracting mostly weddings, quinceneras, small conferences, etc. How does the city of Brownsville intend to attract a larger audience with a capacity of only 1,300 max? Answer, it can't!

There was no clear vision for this building and under went numerous of design changes after construction began. It was, in my opinion, a disaster from the beginning. Not only are we left without a convention center that is built precisely for that purpose, the city is now having to pay for a building that lost its purpose and is now in the red cuz of the low prices (any higher and Events Center would not be able to attract enough people to it), high maintainance cost, poor location, small capacity, not enough exposure, and little room to expand in the future. Its cost was way over the origial cost by millions and produced a building that is costing more to run that its attracting. In other words, the tax payers of Brownsville were expecting a convention center, and got an "events center." We were let down enourmously.

But not all is lost. There is still hope in building a convention center in Brownsville with a location that would be perfect for its use. here's my idea of the right way to build a convention center and a good location to build it on:

In order to attract people to a convention center and make it a success, a convention center must have the following criteria:

1. Build it next to the expressway.
2. Build it close to the city's major attractions
3. Build a parking garage with the building
4. Build it with the architectural style of the city
5. Build it within the heart of the city
6. Build it with at least a 10,000 person capacity

Let me now break this down for you.

For a convention center to be successful, it needs to be built in a high visibility area and next to a major highway such as the expressway. My ideal location for this new convention center that would meet and exceed all of the above criteria would be between 6th and 7th St right up next to the expressway. This is a large lot where there are several old warehouses and the site of the old Pacific Railroad line. To make it easier to imagen, start at the Federal Courthouse that in front of the Police Department. In front of the courthouse will be the future Linear Park that will also serve as a memorial for veterans. In this park is the now under construction Brownsville Museum of Fine Arts and a new office building and a new parking lot for the zoo. In front of the musuem are sevral old warehouses that and empty space. This is the area I'm refering to.

It's an execellent location because first, it's right next to the expressway and eventually, the 6th & 7th Streets will be realigned with the McDavitt Street. This area will have better traffic flow and easy access with the expressway for convenience and less traffic troubles. Second, the location is close to many of the city's major attractions, such as the zoo, the recently renovated and Dean Porter park, which is largest park in Brownsville along with the furute Linear Park and the hike and bike trail that will connect the Federal Courthouse with the Palo Alto National Battlefield Park, the historic downtown area and Matamoros (via the Veteran's Int'l Bridge, Gateway Int'l Bridge, and the B&M Int'l Bridge), UTB/TSC, the Brownsville Multimodal Transportaion Terminal (once its been built, see more about this in this blog), and the shopping retail in Boca Chica Blvd and the Sunrise Mall along with the multitude of shopping retail in north Brownsville. It's all within easy reach to all of these areas as this new convention center would be located in the heart of the city, which is the 5th requirement. All locations are within a few miles from this proposed location.

Also of importance will be the proximatey of the Brownsville/SPI International Airport, once the second phase of East Loop is finished. A good convention center needs to have excellent access to a mojor airport. The second phase of East Loop will begin at the end of the expressway near the Veteran's Int'l bridge and then head a small ways along the East Ave towards the Southmost Blvd. But after just less than a quarter mile, the loop will then turn right and follow the levee to bypass most of southmost area and connect directly with the airport. Also important to note is that in the future, the third phase of the East Loop will be to connect the airport to the Port of Brownsville, which inturn, the existing FM 511 will be turned into a limited access highway that connects to the expressway north of Brownsville. To put this in to perspective, the convention center location would place it within a loop where the airport, Port of Brownsville, the highway to SPI, and north of Brownsville will be connected to each other via the East Loop and FM 511. This is important to note because of all the traffic activity that will occure on the expressway once the east loop projects, FM 511 project, and the expansion of the expressay are completed. Also important is that out-or-town visitors going to the convention center would not get lost because of the location. Visitors would not be complaining about getting lost if they coming from the airport or the highway.

Location is only half the battle. You can have great access to a convention center but if the building looks butt ugly, that will also reflect on locals and visitors alike. The design of the building is very critical. In this respect, this new convention center should have architectural styling that is appropriate for the area that it will be built in. In this case, the historic downtown area. The design of the building should reflect a Mission style, Border Brick style, or Spanish-Colonial style, which are the more popular style of downtown. Though there are many different styles of architecture found in the downtown area, it would be better to keep with the more popular style to blend in more appropriately. Also, since we have entered into the 21st century, the architect should also fuse and blend appropriately with which ever of the above mentioned style with today's modern styling such as the use of large quantities of glass and energy saving materials and solar power to make the building more envirometally sound and use less electricty for lower costs. In this way, visitors can see a building with a connection to the past but also know that its was built in the 21st Century with our enviroment and styling of today in mind.

Since the area that I have proposed is not large enough to hold a parking lot and the building, I would then propose a multilevel garage. It's costly but the only way to get around with the parking situation. The building itself should also be several stories in height, maybe up to five or six-stories to take advantage ot the scenery of the downtown area and also make it highly visible to those traveling along the expressway. Self advertising is free when everyone can see you from a distance. It will also look like a building that people can identify with when they think of Brownsville, on the border by the sea ...

But none of this is possible if the city of Brownsville does not look forward and take advantage of the unique location, which I have described above, and styling that a convention center should meet, based on the six criterias. The city must act soon as McAllen is already years ahead of us. But our advantage would be location, location, location only if the city acts soon and builds it.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's not needed B'tx, as I explained with expert and insightful analysis in the RGV Forum.


7:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey BTX, why no new issues since February?


10:20 AM  
Anonymous deepsouthtexas said...

I imagine end of semester gets a little hectic.

11:53 PM  
Blogger Jorge Krieg said...

Hell, as long as Brownsville has leaders such as out current mayor. Things will never change. All we have is ego-maniac wimps running the show. We need real leaders (I would prefer anglo/saxons) at the helm. Many of Brownsville's leaders have major inferiority complex hence making progress stall. Take the public access channel for example (ch.12). I remember a time when it was solely used for time and temp updates, along with community news that was scrolled or posted on the channel. Now, every time i switch the channel. All I see is the mayor's and his moronic compadres' faces on the TELE. Is this to update the people of Brownsville on current events, time & temp.? I think not! These fools have hijacked the channel for propaganda. Over and over again they get free advertising with tax payers' money. How do they get free advertising? Hello... they are on the air. I mean, how many times can they air the opening of a new southmost library,semi- bus terminal (FM-802), the mayor reading stories to little brats that are calling for their moms instead of listening to the mayor's attempt to read "the three little bears". Brownsville's leaders (mainly the mayor) are a bunch of punks that try to be someone they are not. They think they are part of the high-society, but in reality they are losers. I know... they are a bunch of snakes that think they are slick, but they can't fool me.

3:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cuckoo, cuckoo!!!


12:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Again, Brownsville is in Mcallens shadow.

7:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who knows where to download XRumer 5.0 Palladium?
Help, please. All recommend this program to effectively advertise on the Internet, this is the best program!

9:48 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home