In an August 13, 2013 story, The Monitor, a McAllen newspaper, explained that "The current facility was built in 1954 to house three courts and a much smaller county. Hidalgo County’s population has nearly quintupled and 19 more courts have been added since the nearly 60-year-old building was constructed, and few disagree the county needs a new facility."
Earlier this year, a May 8 story in The Monitor described a short-term solution Hidalgo County has taken to alleviate the space shortage: modular buildings. Familiar to public school staff and students, these "temporary" manufactured buildings are intended to kick the can down the road, until a new county courthouse is available. "County officials plan to open the modular buildings parked on the courthouse’s north end by mid-June, providing a temporary home for two new courtrooms and an expansion for other judicial offices." The current 1954 era courthouse contains about 193,000 square feet of area. The modular buildings, containing a pair of new courtrooms, add about 13,000 square feet to the courthouse, for a total of 206,000 square feet. A recent master plan for the courthouse determined the county currently needs about 418,000 square feet of area to serve its present needs. And that size will surely grow as Hidalgo County grows.
The August 13 story discusses the preliminary planning taking place to create a new Hidalgo County courthouse: "A plan to build a new county courthouse here inched forward Tuesday as the Hidalgo County Commissioners Court and the Edinburg City Council held a joint session to discuss funding the estimated $113 million project and to meet with representatives from an architecture firm contracted to draw preliminary plans for a high-rise courthouse." McAllen based ERO Architects has been hired by the county to prepare a schematic design for a new courthouse that would be located in Edinburg, the county seat. Of course, The Monitor notes that "The City of Edinburg is willing to contribute financially to prevent another city from doing to Edinburg what Edinburg did to the City of Hidalgo — stealing away the county seat by building a new courthouse." Apparently, other cities in the county are interested in "hosting" the county seat. The Monitor story highlights the issues related to public/private funding sources for the new courthouse that are just as difficult to solve as the design issues for the new building. Similar discussions are taking placing in Travis County.
Regardless, the earliest a new Hidalgo County courthouse could be completed is 2018, according to The Monitor. This gives me more than enough time to re-visit the Edinburg courthouse and photograph the modular buildings for an update to this website.