Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Downtown Upgrades

Several Public and Private Projects Planned for Downtown El Paso

For years, El Paso officials and business owners alike have made all sorts of moves to get the city’s largely dormant downtown back on the upswing. 

Areas around and south of Paisano Drive have been abuzz with shoppers for decades, but the business sectors of downtown have seen somewhat measured investment. 
Relatively recent revitalization highlights include the Mills-Plaza area, which is still under development, and the dynamic Union Plaza area, where an entrepreneurial element sparked several years back leading to trendy restaurants, clubs, and more recently, shops and apartments.

Now, a combination of big moves are culminating in several construction projects planned for the next two years and beyond. Here are some of those projects and their location within the downtown area.
1. Luther Building – The historic structure is undergoing rehabilitation to make room for City departments. Construction should be done by the fall of this year.
2. San Jacinto Plaza – Complete reconstruction of the city’s downtown plaza. Construction should start in July and be completed in January 2015.
3. Mills Avenue Promenade – A pedestrian-only portion of Mills Avenue between the Plaza Hotel and the Mills/Centre Buildings. No concrete start dates, but should be nearing.
4. Baseball Stadium – The former City Hall was demolished last month to make room for a Triple-A baseball stadium. Construction has begun and is scheduled for completion in April 2014.
5. Convention Center Walkway – This new pedestrian route would make it easier to get from the museum district to the Union Plaza area. No concrete dates, but design may be complete.
6. Texas Tech School of Architecture – A deal has been struck that will bring the college to the historic Union Depot building on the western edge of downtown. 
7. Streetcar Project - $90 million project to bring a streetcar route that will travel from downtown to the UTEP area. Could begin construction in 2014.
8. Bataan Memorial Trainway – The rehabilitation of six street bridges over a railway trench which includes aesthetic improvements and public art. Construction on some bridge structures may begin this year.
9. San Antonio Avenue – City project to convert the surface street from one-way to two-way traffic. Currently under construction.
10. Mesa Bus RTS Route – A rapid transit line that will begin at the Downtown Transfer Center and travel to the west side of the city. Scheduled to start in June and open in July 2014.
A. Artspace El Paso – The project to bring affordable housing and studio space for El Paso artists is still in the design phase. If financing is approved, construction could begin soon.
B. United Bank of El Paso del Norte – This former parking structure is being transformed into a bank and office building. The external construction is nearly complete.
C. Martin Building – This historic building, owned by the Lane Gaddy group of investors, could see a revitalization effort soon in the form of mixed use that could include housing options.
D. The Savoy – The vacant upper levels of this building at the corner of East Overland Avenue and Stanton Street could be converted into 27 apartment units. Bearing Development has posted the project at its website.
E. Mercado/Walgreen’s – Two properties across Paisano Drive from each other are seeing new life, both formerly flea markets. On the southern side, a new Mercado building has sprung up, while on the northern side, a brand new Walgreen’s store is being built.

All projects are subject to change, especially concerning expected timeframes with regard to construction. Check our website for updates on these and future projects. 

The Downtown Management District (DMD) has developed a page at its website that contains updates on street and sidewalk closures due to downtown construction. This includes a color coded map of downtown El Paso complete with a project timeline. The page can be found at http://downtownelpaso.com/dwntwn-construction/.