Saturday, April 28, 2012

Mercado Replacing Flea Market Downtown

A decades old flea market in Downtown El Paso will soon be replaced by a new building housing a mercado. Local owners of the property at the corner of S. Oregon and Paisano decided to upgrade the area to contribute to Downtown's revitalization, according to a story in the El Paso Times.
"Mercado del Paisano" will include individual shops and small restaurants, covering a total of 17,500 square feet. Twenty-five shops have been leased, but no tenant names have been disclosed.
A property located across Paisano from the mercado site is rumored to be the location of a future Walgreen's store. A flea market is currently located on that property as well.

El Paso Times article:

City to Vote on Montecillo Smart Zone Application

The City will vote on May 15 on a smart code application for the mixed-use Montecillo development. The application is part of the incentives agreement the City approved for Montecillo last year, which dictated that the developer must submit a smart code rezoning application within a year.
Unlike an illustrative land-use map, smart code zoning shows general zones which each have their own rules as to density, parking, setbacks, streets, etc. The darker shaded areas generally denote higher densities with building facades directly lining sidewalks.
To date, four buildings are nearing completion and are collectively called The Venue at Montecillo. Up next is a senior housing/retirement home which will go up along Castellano, west of Mesa. EPT Land Communities has mentioned that townhomes are also due to begin construction in the next phase of building.

City Council Item:

Saturday, April 21, 2012

TXDOT to Introduce Spaghetti Bowl Improvements

The Texas Department of Transportation will update City Council on April 24 on the status of two large upcoming projects in central El Paso, an aesthetics improvement project for the US-54/I-10 interchange better known as the Spaghetti Bowl, and an interchange revamp for the intersection of Paisano Drive and Alameda Avenue.
The Spaghetti Bowl project limits are I-10 from Raynolds Street to Copia Street and US 54 from
Yandell Drive to Alameda Avenue. Improvements will consist of cleaning and repainting the bridge structures; lead paint and asbestos abatement; high mast, accent and underpass lighting; riprap repairs and improvements; landscape improvements (compatible with City’s Corridor Aesthetics Plan); use of loose aggregate for ground cover; landscape planting of the interchange; installation of a landscape/aesthetic wall along the northeast boundary; installation of aesthetic towers; and a railing upgrade along US-54.
There will be six towers in total which will be placed at various intervals along the interchange, ranging in height from 70 to 100 feet. Medium- and large-size trees will also be an important part of the landscaping process.
The second project consists of a complete overhaul of the Paisano/Alameda interchange, which currently consists of an overpass in only one direction and confusing multi-way intersections. The new draft plan replaces these elements with a dual-roundabout strategy which will also eliminate traffic lights and work to calm traffic in an area which is poised to see an increase in pedestrians due to the expansion of the Medical Center of the Americas project. This project is still in draft plan status and is subject to change.
TXDOT will most likely brief the city on the status of funding and timelines for each project.
City Council Agenda item (PDF):

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Venue at Montecillo Premieres New Website

The website for the first four urban apartment buildings of the upcoming Montecillo development on the west side, known as the Venue at Montecillo, has been unveiled. Anyone interested can now visit to view amenities, floor plans, pricing, and even submit an application.
Some of the apartment highlights according to the website include plank-style flooring, washer/dryer in every apartment, nine foot ceilings, crown molding, and kitchen islands. The community amenities include luxurious, comfortable common areas, trash chutes, intercoms for guest use, first level retail and eateries, water features, and a 24-hour fitness center.
Apartments range in price from $730 for a 596 square foot one bedroom, one bath to $1,150 for a 1,135 square foot two bedroom, two bath space. There will be 290 units among the four four-story buildings.

Venue at Montecillo website:

Thursday, April 12, 2012

'Fountains' Construction Start, Opening Dates Revealed

EMJ Construction of Dallas has posted an update to its website indicating that it has been awarded the contract to construct the Fountains at Farah retail project in east El Paso. The news item reveals that the site is currently in "pre-construction" and that actual construction will begin in May of 2012. The Grand Opening of the center is scheduled for November of 2013, one year later than originally planned.
According to the website, "Massive in more than scale, it is a $70 million project with 30 buildings including a total of 615,000 square feet comprising the lifestyle center and an additional 500,000 square foot parking garage," adding that the project is considered "one of the largest new commercial retail projects in the country."
No tenants have been announced, but names should begin to surface soon with the start of major construction set for next month.

Previously: Fountains Design Changes Submitted:

EMJ Construction News Item:

City Interested In Historic Downtown Building

The City Council will meet in executive session next week to discuss matters pertaining to 215 N. Mesa, the location of the historic Roberts-Banner Building in downtown El Paso.
Due do the nature of transactions concerning real estate, Texas Government Code allows city and county governments to meet behind closed doors in order to avoid negatively affecting the City's position in negotiations. Therefore, the exact purpose of the discussion of the property in question is unknown, but discussion could lead to a future purchase or lease of the property in question. The City may also be determining the building's value in order to offer incentives to encourage redevelopment by the current owner.
The Roberts-Banner Building was built in 1910 and designed by famed El Paso architect Henry C. Trost. It is part of a block which borders the northern edge of San Jacinto Plaza, and only one block away from the newly renovated Mills-Plaza area. The building has been owned by River Oaks Properties since 2005.

City Council Agenda:
City's Roberts-Banner page:

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Downtown To Get Pocket Parks

Two new pocket parks are coming to Downtown, part of the City's effort to increase green space within Downtown and to focus on creating pocket parks all over the El Paso area.
The first park is located in a small triangle bounded by Santa Fe Street, Franklin Ave, and Prospect Street near the El Paso History Museum, and will be called Cavalryman Park. The short section of Prospect Street will be permanently closed to increase space for the park. Funding for the park was approved at the March 8 TIRZ Board meeting.
Future site of Cavalryman Park
The second park will be on an empty lot at the corner of Octavia Street and Myrtle Avenue just one block northeast of the new Magoffin Villa apartments. It will include amenities such as a gazebo and playground and will have turn of the century decorative details, such as brick pavers, wrought iron, and detailed light fixtures. The Historic Landmark Commission will review the application at its April 9 meeting.
Future site of unnamed Magoffin area pocket park
TIRZ Meeting Agenda (PDF):
Historic Landmark Commission agenda item (PDF):

Don Quintín Plans Expansion at Historic Landmark

Don Quintín, the famous live music venue import from Juarez, has applied for an expansion of its outdoor space at the historic rail station it occupies in Downtown El Paso. The application was submitted through the Historic Landmark Commission due to the historic status of the depot. The property is located within the Magoffin Historic District.
The club's plan, located at 420 N. Campbell along I-10, is to expand outdoor seating areas as well as add a one-story building at its northern edge to accommodate additional restroom facilities. Plans for the expansion show a large concrete slab that will be the foundation for booths, a large outdoor bar, and a wooden pergola that would span most of the outdoor area.
The plans do not show any incorporation of greenery, which could be useful in such a bare area. The building is highly visible while traveling along I-10 West. The agenda item was passed at the Historic Landmark Commission meeting on February 13, 2012.
Historic Landmark Commission Item:

Friday, April 6, 2012

CRRMA Adds Ramps to Americas Interchange

The Camino Real Regional Mobility Authority will add construction of two more direct connectors to the Americas/Interstate 10 Interchange project. This brings the total number of ramps that are funded or expect funding to five out of a total of eight in the overall plan's scope.
According to the April 2012 Project Newsletter, "Through additional cooperation among the regional partners, the community is now poised to add two more direct connectors to this important regional interchange. The design of both by the CRRMA has begun, with the hopes that the construction by TxDOT can begin after Substantial Completion of the three current project direct connectors, in January 2013." The new direct connectors will connect I-10 West to 375 South and I-10 West to 375 North.
Work on the initial three direct connectors continues at a fast pace, with beams now clearly visibly spanning several columns. Construction work is about 50% done with workers on track for an on-time completion. A major ramp closure will occur this month when the 375 South exit ramp to Rojas and I-10 is permanently closed. Traffic needing to access I-10 will have to exit miles north at Pellicano. The closure is necessary to complete construction of the corresponding direct connector.
Americas Interchange Newsletter (PDF):

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Central Project Highlights City's Infill Incentives

A four unit residential project in Central El Paso could benefit from City incentives targeted at rewarding infill developments. The $200,000+ project will replace a blighted empty lot at 2308 Wheeling Ave., just east of Scenic Drive.
In return for his investment, the developer could receive a property tax exemption for five years, construction fee/permit waivers up to $10,000, and a sales tax rebate on construction materials.
The City adopted the incentive program in 2010 with hopes of encouraging projects like this one. It is intended to facilitate the reuse of vacant land, and vacant or blighted buildings, is available for commercial projects and affordable rental housing, and requires a minimum investment of $50,000 for commercial projects.
City Council will vote on the Wheeling project on April 9.
City Council agenda item:

City Begins Downtown Street Beautification Process

The City has submitted an application to the Historic Landmark Commission (HLC) for right of way improvements to and beautification of San Antonio Avenue in Downtown El Paso. The area of focus is between El Paso and Stanton Streets.
Improvements could include:

• Sidewalks should be enhanced by installing brick pavers (or other decorative materials) along the edges and/or intersections.
• Existing planting boxes should be removed. Instead trees with tree grates should be installed.
• All sidewalks should have handicap accessibility.
• Trees should have tree grates and vertical tree guards similar to those at Pioneer Plaza.
• Street furniture should be consistent with the character of the historic landmarks within the district.
• Street furniture should be selected, place and maintained as part of the overall design scheme.
The City must first go through the HLC because the street is located in a historic district, and any improvement to the right away must adhere to relatively strict design guidelines. The goal of the guidelines is to ensure that any change in appearance will be sensitive to the historic nature of the surrounding buildings.
The city would also like to make the street a two-way thoroughfare to improve circulation in the city's core. The project is part of the City's overall goal to improve walkability and wayfinding within Downtown. City Council will vote on April 9 to award the contract for improvements to J.A.R. Concrete, who will have 210 days to complete the project from when work begins.

Historic Landmark Commission Item:
City Council Agenda:

Housing Authority Plans Eastside Mixed-Use Development

The Housing Authority of El Paso has submitted a rezoning application to the City Plan Commission for a 16 acre mixed-use development on the east side which will incorporate smart growth principles. It is located near the intersection of Joe Battle and Zaragoza, immediately to the north of a shopping center whose main anchor is JCPenney. The development will be comprised of 31 units of differing sizes and densities and will contain a total of 199 dwelling units.
Walking and biking paths will run throughout the site, and a community center will be located near Joe Battle. A transit stop will also be located within the development. The land was originally zoned as a cookie-cutter east side neighborhood made up entirely of detached single family housing units.
No word yet on a timeline for the development.

City Plan Commission Agenda Item(PDF):