Thursday, September 13, 2012

Smart Code, Master Plan Coming to Airport Land

An industrial area southwest of the El Paso International Airport and commercial areas along Montana Avenue could soon be rezoned to Smart Code, according to an zoning application on the City Plan Commission agenda. The Southern Industrial Park Master Plan envisions pedestrian friendly streets with retailers and restaurants lining the sidewalks, architecturally interesting courtyard hotels with hidden parking, and a 450,000 square foot business conference center, all in a 300+ acre area owned by the airport.

View looking northwest over High Street. A courtyard hotel is in the foreground.
The plan, developed by Placemakers LLC, focuses on two "pedestrian sheds" that lie to the south of the main international airport. The first area is bounded by Airway Boulevard to the east and north, Airport Boulevard to the west, and Montana Avenue to the south. This area would see the densest development.

Full build-out shown on the right.
The main north-south arterial is referred to as High Street in the plan, and would require storefronts along most of the roadway. Retail stores, restaurants, hotels, and office buildings would line the route, which would stretch from Montana Avenue, north past Airway Boulevard, and all the way to a new rental car parking garage that would be adjacent to the main airport terminal. High Street would in no way be a straight shot and instead take a meandering route through the master planned area.

Required High Street storefronts are lined in red.
A business conference center could also be located in this area with between 215,000 and 450,000 square feet dedicated to this use. The conceptual plan shows the location of the center along the Airway Boulevard curve. 

Business Center Options
Concept plans for hotels located in the plan area would require a "courtyard" design, with the building facades lining the streets. Hotel occupants would have immediate access to High Street activities, including restaurants, shopping, and entertainment.

Towers could help draw visitors travelling along Montana Ave.
The second, less dense area consists of parcels between Montana Avenue and Boeing Drive, from Airway Boulevard to Hawkins Boulevard. Commercial and industrial uses would be maintained, but buildings would be re-oriented to line the sidewalk along Lockheed Drive, which runs immediately parallel to Montana Avenue. 

Buildings along Montana Avenue, east of Airway.
The entire project would be built in phases, mostly to accommodate the expiration of current leases the airport has with tenants already occupying the area. Some vacant parcels are ready for development, while the leases on others expire anywhere between one and 16 years from 2012. 

A phasing concept for the more dense area of the plan.
The City Plan Commission will vote on the rezoning application at its September 20, 2012 meeting. If approved, it will go to City Council for a final vote. Due to Federal Aviation Administration regulations, residential uses are not allowed on airport land.