Across University Boulevard from the new Academic Building going up next to the Main Building on Brownsville’s University of Texas Rio Grande Valley campus, another major construction project has broken ground.

The Multipurpose Academic Center is set to rise from a patch of a former parking lot directly opposite the Main Building, according to UTRGV Facilities Planning and Construction Director Gerry Rodriguez. The 55,746-square-foot, two-story structure has a price tag of $36.4 million and is scheduled for completion in November 2018.

MPAC will feature lecture space and classrooms, faculty and administrative offices, physics and math computer labs, and student study/meeting space, Rodriguez said. To compensate for the roughly 300 parking spaces being lost, UTRGV built a new parking lot of equal size at FJRM Avenue and East Tyler Street, he said.

The Academic Building taking shape on the north side of University Boulevard broke ground in March 2016 and is scheduled for completion in May 2018. The building’s three stories and 102,500 square feet will house general academics, music instruction and recitals, math and language labs, science teaching labs, student study/meeting space and classrooms equipped for online teaching.

The Academic Building is being paid for through $54 million from the state’s Permanent University Fund, generated in part by oil and gas royalties and mineral leases, while MPAC is being financed via $36.4 million in tuition revenue bond proceeds.

Rodriguez said the university faced a big shortage of space after its separation from Texas Southmost College and continues to lease space from TSC as a result. The new construction signals progress toward the ultimate goal of meeting space requirements without leasing, he said.

“We’re making an effort to accommodate the (UTRGV) student population there on campus,” Rodriguez said. “It’ll be some time before we have enough facilities that we can accommodate all of them in buildings that we own.”

The Academic Building and MPAC are, so far, the only two construction projects officially approved and funded since the separation, he said.

“We are in the process of completing a master plan that should be done in the next three to four months,” Rodriguez said. “So we’ll have a plan that kind of lays out what our priorities are and what comes next, but it’s all subject to funding, of course.”