Monday, February 25, 2013

Downtown CVS Store Now Open

The first El Paso CVS store has opened its doors at 201 N. Mesa Street in downtown. The national pharmacy chain opened the location on February 24, 2013.

New Downtown CVS location; Abdou Building is across the street.
(Photo is from Downtown El Paso website.)
CVS now occupies 11,000 square feet on the building's first floor. With 30,000 square feet total in the rehabbed building, the retailer is unsure how the remaining space will be used. CVS purchased the building in August of 2012.

Read more at the Downtown El Paso website.

Progress Photos: United Bank, Fountains, Downtown CVS
CVS Pharmacy May Open Downtown Location

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Downtown Starbucks Nearing Completion; New Pics Revealed

The architectural firm behind the upcoming Starbucks location in downtown El Paso has posted new pictures showing the coffee shop's progress, and all signs point to the new addition opening soon.

The photos show multiple angles of the nearly finished Barista area with multiple brewing machines already installed. There are also some shots of the exterior which include the new outdoor sign. The developing construction is in line with concept images that were released last year.

Coffee preparation area inside upcoming downtown Starbucks.
No concrete opening date has been provided for the cafe. The images were posted on the Facebook page of architecture firm In*Situ.

Previously: See Concept Design of Downtown Starbucks

In*Situ's Facebook page:

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Merge Lanes to Augment East El Paso Interstate 10 Project

Documents showing the schematic plan for the upcoming I-10 re-striping project on El Paso's east side indicate that a 5th lane in each direction will be used for merging traffic in and out of the main lanes between Yarbrough and Lomaland Drives. The schematics are part of a presentation given by the Texas Department of Transportation at its last public meeting on the project.

Merge Lanes add a fifth lane in each direction on I-10.
The merge/exit only lanes are in addition to a fourth lane that will be added from McRae Blvd. to Zaragoza Road/George Dieter Drive. A third lane will be added in each direction from Zaragoza to the Americas Interchange at I-10 and Loop 375.

Currently, I-10 is reduced to three lanes in each direction at McRae, creating severe bottleneck traffic conditions during rush hour when travelling east. And morning commuters traveling westward from the east side also encounter heavy congestion between Lee Trevino and Hawkins Boulevard.

The Texas Department of Transportation is expanding capacity without widening the freeway by using striping to reduce current lanes by a foot each and using the current inner shoulder as a main lane. The outside shoulder will remain.

Most of the inner shoulder will be used for a new main lane.
There has been no update to the timeline, but the $11 million project could begin in August of this year. Engineering firm Huitt-Zollars of Dallas has been awarded the contract. Huitt-Zollars has a permanent local branch in El Paso.

More Lanes Coming to I-10 in East El Paso

Huitt-Zollars website:

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Aging Downtown Structure to See New Life as 27-Unit Apartment Bldg

A nearly century old downtown structure at the corner of Stanton Street and Overland Avenue will gain new life as an apartment building, according to a project page at the website for Bearing Development of El Paso. The developers hope to create 27 apartment and loft units at the site, reusing the current structure to do so. It is located one block west of the El Paso County Courthouse. A concept image at the site shows the building's sign as "The Imperial."

Concept image of the future Savoy/Imperial apartment building.
The original brick building, the Hotel Savoy, was built in 1915 and stretched north past where the current facade ends. Currently, the upper levels are vacant, and the few small windows that remain are painted over. The first floor is occupied by a Dollar Tree retail store.

Current structure.
This is the second Downtown adaptive reuse housing project for the development partners whose first venture was the First Avenue Lofts at South Florence Street, south of the government district. Bearing Development also lists Magoffin Park Villas on Myrtle Avenue as a completed design project. No timeline is posted for the Savoy development.

Bearing Development's Savoy/Imperial project page:
First Avenue Lofts website:

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Americas Interchange Phase 2 Starts in March

Work will begin in March on three additional Direct Connectors (DC) at the Americas Interchange project. The three new ramps will connect Westbound I-10 to Northbound Loop 375, Westbound I-10 to Southbound Loop 375, and Eastbound I-10 to Southbound Loop 375.

The $43 million project is scheduled for completion in February of 2014 and comes on the heels of the recently completed first three DCs. Those ramps opened in January 2013.

Project Location
The contract has been awarded to J.D. Abrams of Austin, who has worked on several highways projects in El Paso, including construction of the Spur 601 freeway which opened in June 2011, and the current Loop 375 Northeast project. The initial three ramps at the Americas Interchange were constructed by Americas Gateway Builders. The Camino Real Regional Mobility Authority (CRRMA) is managing the project.

Americas Interchange Phase 1 Nearing End; Phase 2 Coming Soon

J.D. Abrams website:
CRRMA website:

Monday, February 11, 2013

See Medical Center of the Americas Renderings

The Medical Center of the Americas (MCA) master plan project is currently in Phase Two, and renderings released in the second half of 2012 include refined designs for specific buildings within the plan area. Four concept images show design elements that are more in line with the current Texas Tech School of Medicine buildings.

Clinical Sciences Building concept.
The Clinical Sciences building may develop as a nine story structure, based on its concept image. It will be located on Alberta Avenue between the current Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center clinic building and Raynolds Street.

Medical Science Bldg. 2 is in the background in this image.
The School of Medicine's Medical Science Building 2 will help complete the university area by going up to the east and perpendicular to the existing buildings. In the concept drawing, this building is in the background, and two additional school buildings are located in the foreground, along Raynolds Street.

School of Nursing building in the foreground.
Another multi-story building pictured in the images is the Gayle Greve Hunt School of Nursing, which will be constructed at the corner of Alberta Avenue and North Concepcion Street. Additional "Future Buildings 1 and 2" can be seen just to the west of the Nursing building, in front of a pedestrian plaza.

A pedestrian plaza between future buildings at the MCA.
A SmartCode rezoning plan is currently in the works for the site, and a Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone was recently approved for the area.

Texas Tech Adds Nursing Building to MCA

Medical Center of the Americas master plan website:

Sunday, February 10, 2013

TI:ME at Montecillo Logo Makes Appearance on Project Retail Space Plan

The newest addition to the Montecillo project website, a document showing retail space available in the Venue at Montecillo apartment buildings, has also provided a brand new look at the logo for an upcoming addition to the development.

The logo for the TI:ME at Montecillo project is a play on the display for the numerals on a retro flip down clock. TI:ME, short for The Independent Modern Entrepreneur, will be used as an incubator for new retail and restaurant concepts, and is being developed by a trio of local investors who have helped create such local hot spots as Crave Kitchen and Bar and The Garden. TI:ME at Montecillo will include approximately 11,000 of space.

Retail space within the Venue at Montecillo project.
Another 11,000 square feet of retail space is available for the Venue project, according to the document, the majority of which exists in the largest building along Mesa Street. The project includes 290 apartment units in four mixed used buildings.

Union Plaza Pros Plan Montecillo Presence

Montecillo website:

Piazza Escondida Brings Mixed-Use to West EP

A new mixed-use development is snuggling into an otherwise suburban west El Paso neighborhood. Piazza Esondida will offer 20+ residential units when the project is complete, ranging from studio lofts to terrace homes.

According to the project's website, five different home/work types will be built, including:

Terrace Homes (2) - Consist of two level homes with two bedrooms and an attached two care garage.
Mansion Residence (7) - Condo units that will reside within a "mansion" building and can be designed to suit the buyer.
Studio Lofts (4) - Open spaces that are approximately 1,000 square feet and include details such as exposed duct work, brick interior walls, and concrete floors. These will include a one car garage.
Live/Work (5) - Units with work space on the first level and live space on the second. Each has an attached garage. One work space will be dedicated for restaurant/deli uses while another will be used for retail purposes.
City Homes (5) - "Spacious" detached homes with two-car garages.
Annex Office Suites (4) - 1,000 square foot office suites with direct access to grade level parking.

Construction is well under way and can be seen in progress photos offered on the website, though no timeline is revealed. All housing units will be sold as condominiums, according to the site.

The project, at 6350 Escondido Drive, is being constructed by The Winton Homes Group of El Paso.

Piazza Escondida website:

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Northwest EP SmartCode Zoning Moves Forward

A rezoning application for 1,660 acres of land in northwest El Paso will be reviewed at the February 7, 2013 City Plan Commission (CPC) meeting which looks to redefine the area with SmartCode. The City-owned land would ultimately allocate 750 acres of land for development and preserve 910 acres as natural open space under this plan.
Illustrative Plan
A wide range of densities will be allowed within six Traditional Neighborhood Developments (TND), "each of which exhibits all characteristics of a complete neighborhood, including a mix of uses, walkable blocks, and dedicated Civic Zones, all within walking distance  of one another."

SmartCode zoning plan for northwestern El Paso.
A dynamic grid of thoroughfares will connect mixed-use main streets to neighborhood centers. Walkability and bicycling will be encouraged in each TND by including wide sidewalks, bike lanes, and sharrows, lanes that are shared by vehicles and bikes. Multiple new paths will add to the existing paths leading into Franklin Mountains State Park.

Neighborhoods will include playgrounds, civic buildings, and mixed densities. Terminating vistas and retail storefronts are stressed throughout and required on certain streets. Blocks are limitied to 3,000 square feet in size.

City Council chose the current plan in March of 2012 after community meetings were held to encourage input from residents. In June, the Public Service Board voted unanimously to convey 660 acres to Franklin Mountains State Park for conservation.

If approved by the CPC, the item will go to City Council for final approval.