Monday, April 29, 2013

'Piazza' Progresses: Modern West Side Project Has Old World Character

Loft Units Could be Ready by June

One of El Paso’s most unique communities continues its march to reality on the city’s west side, and units will be ready for occupancy this summer.

Piazza Escondida, a Winton Homes Group project located at 6350 Escondido Drive and adjacent to the company’s headquarters, will ultimately deliver more than 20 residential units surrounding a central plaza area complete with landscaping and a fully functional fountain.
The Live/Work units have garage access at the plaza level.
Pavers are already in place at the Piazza, a development influenced by old world residential areas such as those found in the oldest Italian villages where a diversity of housing options surround a central gathering plaza. 

Three larger buildings and five detached “City Homes” will make up the Piazza. Currently, two of the three planned multi-family buildings are under construction.

One of those buildings is on the property’s eastern edge and will have four loft-style condos on the upper level, each with its own unique floor plan covering approximately 1,000 square feet. Each loft will include amenities like exposed duct work and beams, exposed brick detail on walls, and concrete floors. The plaza-level (basement) will have garage access for these units.
Scaffolding covers the unfinished façade of the Loft/Terrace Homes building at the Piazza Escondida on El Paso’s west side.
Immediately below the lofts, the project includes four professional office units that will front the current headquarters’ parking lot. 

Flanking the lofts and office spaces are two level, two bedroom units each with its own attached double car garage. These “Terrace Homes” also include two and half bathrooms each and generous balconies. 


Lining the southern edge of the site is another building currently under construction which will house five Live/Work units. As their name implies, the units will focus on having businesses on the first floor with a residential area on the second level. The idea is simple but could be enticing to business owners. Residents will live directly above their workspace, meaning the commute time is literally the seconds it takes to walk up and down a staircase.
Storefronts on the Live/Work units face Escondido Drive.
According to Scott Winton of the Winton Homes Group, a small fast casual dining restaurant could fill one of the spaces. Winton hopes that another of the spaces will be used as a small grocer, similar to those found in older El Paso neighborhoods. The remaining three work spaces will most likely be occupied by professionals such as lawyers or accountants, though a service shop such as a salon can’t be ruled out.

Pathway in front of the Live/Work building.
The storefronts in the Live/Work building will face Escondido Drive to the south, increasing accessibility for residents in surrounding neighborhoods. Currently, a water channel separates the building from the surface street, but two pedestrian bridges are planned to help connect the “work” level to the sidewalk out front.

Across the plaza on the northern side will be five “City Homes,” detached single family residences with a townhouse feel. The customizable homes come with a standard 1,700 square feet on the ground floor, but can be sized to the buyer’s desire on the second level. 

Scott Winton  stands in front of a
“City Home” at the Piazza Escondida.
Currently, one model home has been built at a total of 2,498 square feet in size. Balconies, a common sight throughout the property, offer views overlooking the plaza and of the Franklin Mountains to the east. The homes share no walls with neighboring units and will be separated by four to five feet of space on either side. Each unit comes with a single car garage.

The final building on the property will occupy the western side when it is eventually constructed. This “Mansion” building will consist of three levels and a total of seven or eight custom condo units. An elevator will be available to residents in this structure.

The first level of the “Mansion” will have parking via a shared garage. Two smaller units will be available here at about 800 square feet each. 
Rendering of the future Mansion building at Piazza Escondida.
The second and third floor will offer up to three units each. Buyers can basically design their own spaces on these levels as there is no standard floor plan. An entire floor could potentially be used for one unit if so desired.

All residents will have mail access at the plaza-level in the Loft/Terrace building. Storage units will also be available on the same level which also houses the garages for the lofts.

The fountain area will have seating and gathering space and will be surrounded by live oaks and Italian cypress trees.

Winton Homes Group acknowledges at the Piazza website that the development may not be for everyone but expresses that it offers options for modern condo living that aren’t currently available in El Paso.  
The developer emphasizes the positives inherent to a community such as the Piazza Escondida. One of the project’s main goals is to produce a walkable environment where use of an automobile is reduced. In general, sustainable communities that encourage walkability result in lowered emissions and reduced transportation costs, positives which are highlighted at the website. The websites adds that it offers “a chance for the formation of the bonds of community that cannot be found in conventional land developments.” 

If successful, Winton Homes Group may consider similar projects in other parts of the city. Currently, Winton is also working on another smart growth community, Rio Valley in El Paso’s upper valley. 

Information: 915-637-0787.

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