By DINA ARÉVALO
Port Isabel-South Padre Press
The historic Port Isabel Yacht Club Hotel was the topic of much discussion at a special meeting of the Port Isabel city commission Tuesday evening.
Listed for discussion under three separate agenda items, the commission debated the future renovation and restoration plans of the building due to concerns raised by City Manager Jared Hockema. “Originally, this project was meant to be a much larger project,” Hockema said. “Let’s pause,” he said.
The first thing to pause, Hockema suggested, was the architectural and design concept currently being created by Teresa Fonseca of STAR Consulting pending the results of two independent reviewers. “We’re pausing it so we can figure out what’s going to be the best course of action,” said Hockema, who worried that the initial project estimate of approximately $5 million would soon be exceeded.
The City originally planned to turn the facility into a culinary arts school and hosted a charrette in February to invite community members to meet with architects, interior designers and other professionals to brainstorm ideas for its creation. Attitudes were optimistic, and the charrette was well received. Local universities and colleges had also expressed interest in using the facility, as well.
But the project has begun to stall pending funding from sources such as the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA), among others. Meanwhile, the ambitious plans for the building are proving more costly than previously expected. Hockema asked what would happen if the concept rose to $10 million. “That was never really discussed,” said Mayor Joe Vega in response.
“The original budget was $5 million. Why did it jump from $5 million to $10 million?” Commissioner Juan Jose “J.J.” Zamora asked.
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