• May 14, 2024

UTRGV to acquire Brownsville ISD facility for Art and Design

UTRGV to acquire Brownsville ISD facility for Art and Design

Latest Development Allows University To Vacate Rusteberg Hall And Meet Unique Space Needs Of Students

By Victoria Brito Morales

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS– The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley announced Tuesday that it is acquiring Longoria Elementary School in Brownsville and transforming the site into the new home of its School of Art and Design.

The University of Texas System Board of Regents (BOR) authorized the purchase in February, and as of Monday, UTRGV and Brownsville ISD had agreed to terms and are under contract.

Once the property closes, UTRGV plans to invest $33.8 million in renovations, pending additional BOR approval. These enhancements will be designed with input from both students and faculty, ensuring the new facilities meet the unique needs and creative aspirations of the School of Art and Design community.

The elementary school, which closed in 2019 due to declining enrollment, is located at 2400 E. Van Buren St., about two blocks from the Life Health Sciences Building on the UTRGV Brownsville Campus. The newly acquired property sits on 4.24 acres, with existing buildings totaling 45,852 square feet.

The acquisition will also help UTRGV reduce the amount of space it leases for its academic programming in Brownsville. Currently, the School of Art and Design operates out of leased space in Rusteberg Hall.

UTRGV President Guy Bailey said purchasing and renovating the elementary school is a big step in providing art and design students a much-needed facility to call their own, one that the university can renovate and maintain effectively to help ensure the success of students.

“We extend our heartfelt thanks to Brownsville ISD for their collaboration and assistance in facilitating this acquisition,” Bailey said. “We believe this is a fantastic opportunity for our students. Not only is it conveniently located near campus, but it also means our students can transition into great space sooner rather than later.”

“In addition, combined with our recent purchase and forthcoming renovation of the Majestic Theater downtown, it represents a significant investment in and commitment to the College of Fine Arts and the Brownsville community,” Bailey said.


Last fall, the BOR approved purchase of the former Majestic Theater and an adjacent building at 1006 E. Elizabeth St. in the heart of downtown Brownsville. The purchase was finalized in November and the facilities will serve as a performing arts center and provide much-needed performance, rehearsal and instructional space for the College of Fine Arts as it works to expand offerings in music, dance and theater.

To date, UTRGV is investing a total of $85 million in capital improvements and acquisitions to expand its facilities within the city of Brownsville.

Dr. Jeffrey Ward, dean of the College of Fine Arts, said the purchase of the elementary school is an important step in the future of the School of Art and Design.

“We are thankful for the UT System Board of Regents, Brownsville ISD and everyone at UTRGV who was involved in getting us to this point,” Ward said. “With this new property and the purchase of the Majestic Theater downtown, the College of Fine Arts in Brownsville is in a great position to thrive for years to come.”

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