AP NEWS

City selects architects for new tennis center

April 7, 2019

HARLINGEN — In the end, the work will stay home.

City officials have budgeted $600,000 for a new pro shop, snack bar and restrooms at the HEB Tennis Center at Pendleton Park. They hope to pay for some or all of it via grant funds.

Three architectural firms responded to the city’s request for quotes for the tennis center project, Negrete and Kolar Architects of Edinburg, Megamorphosis of Harlingen and Gomez, Mendez and Saenz of Brownsville.

At a commission workshop prior to the regular meeting where the vote was taken, principals of each of the firms shared their histories in designing municipal projects throughout the Valley.

But it was Megamorphosis which stressed its local ties Wednesday evening.

“ It matters little what we’ve done in the past,” said Chris Sias, a principal at the downtown firm. “What matters much is this one project — the HEB Tennis Center. This is a project that matters to y’all right now and one we want to produce with you.

“ We can deliver award-winning buildings that are on time and on budget, but what these numbers here don’t show is how we’re personally invested in the success of this one project,” Sias added. “Our families, we play at this place … this place is an extension of our backyard, this is our community.”

The Parks and Recreation Department board previously had weighed the proposals presented by the three architectural firms and recommended the city accept the proposal from Negrete and Kolar.

But the persuasiveness of the Megamorphosis architects, and the fact the firm is located in the city, seemed to carry the day with the commission. The city will now negotiate with the firm on the design of the tennis center.

“ I have been a big advocate of trying to get the local firms work here locally,” said Commissioner Victor Leal. “In my opinion, based on that, I think we should be looking at Megamorphosis versus Negrete. We watched all the presentations, and they were all very good, but I would have to lean towards the locals thinking that they have to live here.”

Fellow commissioner Tudor Uhlhorn agreed, although selecting from among the three bids was a “difficult decision,” he said.

“ I don’t want to do anything that would prevent future RFQs to be responded to by as many people,” he said. “In this case, I just know like Commissioner Leal said, all things being equal as they are, as close as they are, I would agree with him about Megamorphosis.

“ I know particularly in dealing with the convention center and dealing with the parking here for he farmers’ market there’s been a ton of pro bono work that’s been done,” Uhlhorn added. “Based on their projects in the city and the quality of what they’ve done … they do excellent work and I would agree with Commissioner Leal that I’d like to in this case see them get the project.”

But Commissioner Michael Mezmar veered from the sentiments of his colleagues, saying he felt disregarding the recommendation of the parks and rec board was unfair to those people who had put in the time and effort to sift through the three proposals.

“ I don’t think we should override a committee that was picked and assigned with a task and so they picked Negrete and Kolar ... why override them?” he said.

Commissioner Richard Uribe joined Leal and Uhlhorn in support of Megamorphosis with Mezmar opposed.

rkelley@valleystar.com