Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Coming Soon: Big Projects

Several Large Developments Set for El Paso

For many El Pasoans, the last year or so must seem like a parade of headlines announcing large, multi-million dollar projects slated for the Sun City. Indeed, several sizeable developments have recently been announced for El Paso, and construction is set to ramp up in the coming years.

From hotel projects to retail complexes, here is a look at some of the largest, non-transportation developments set to go up around El Paso.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

More Land for Recreation

City May Purchase Properties to Expand Civic Space

The El Paso City Council will vote on two items at its July 30, 2013 meeting which could potentially add 15 acres of land to the City’s parks, recreation, and library system. The land buy would help bring a recreation center/library to the lower valley and a community park to the east side of El Paso.

The City may spend $1.174 million to purchase a 4.49 acre plot of land at 7380 Alameda Avenue in the Riverside High School area. A new recreation center and library combination building would be constructed at the site, funded by the 2012 Quality of Life Bonds approved by voters last year. 
Possible site of a future Recreation Center/Library in the lower valley.

According to the Parks & Recreation rollout plan, the project will have an $11 million dollar budget, though no timeline for completion is specified. The land is currently vacant and lines both Alameda Avenue and Carolina Drive, though the corner property is occupied by a McDonald’s restaurant.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Weekly Edition, Issue 17

The Weekly Edition, Issue 17, has arrived! Take a look at the newest issue of our Weekly Edition, by clicking HERE.

In this edition:
  • Coming Soon: Big Projects - Several Large Developments Set for El Paso
  • Airway Interchange Design Changes: Project Removes Fins, Adds Turbines
  • More Land for Recreation: City Seeks to Purchase Properties to Expand Civic Space

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Thursday, July 25, 2013

City Parks Benefiting from 2012 Quality of Life Bonds

Sunset Heights, Yucca Next in Line for Improvements and New Amenities

Two park projects are putting voter-approved bond dollars to work, one in a historic central El Paso neighborhood and another in the city’s Lower Valley. The projects are funded by the 2012 Quality of Life bonds approved by voters last November.
This artistic rendering of the planned Sunset Heights Park improvements shows a shade canopy over one of the two new playground areas. (Renderings:

A public meeting was held by the City on Saturday, July 20th, to inform residents about the upcoming Sunset Heights Park improvement project which is located 631 Stewart Court, in the Sunset Heights historic district. Construction will close the park during the project’s duration.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

New Vision for Downtown Structure Approved by Historic Landmark Commission

Rogers Furniture Building to See Rehabilitation 

The City’s Historic Landmark Commission (HLC) has approved a new plan for a historic downtown building that would mark a major shift from a revitalization permit approved for the structure just two years ago.
This rendering shows what the building may look like after renovations, from the application filed with the Historic Landmark Commission. (

The long-vacant Rogers Furniture building, located at 209 N. Stanton in downtown El Paso, currently has a boarded-up storefront on the ground level with painted or broken windows littering the facade of the upper floors. A strip of beige stonework moves laterally from just above the first level and continues onto the adjacent Newberry Building. The Rogers Furniture building was built in 1915.

Currently, the 1915 building has missing window
panes, boarded up storefronts, and generally
looks abandoned.
The approved permit will allow demolition of the ground floor facade, installation of new storefronts, installation of new windows, and construction of a rooftop addition. The rendering of what the building may look like after renovations shows a red brick facade on the first floor with glass windows and storefronts along the sidewalk. A suspended awning spans the width of the building.

The architecture of the upper floors remains largely unchanged in the rendering. New windows are encased in the original openings. A rooftop addition has red walls in the image.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Luther Building Gets Additional $4.5M Injection

City Transfers Money to Project

The El Paso City Council voted today to approve an additional $4.5 million for the Luther Building project in downtown. The 62,000 square foot building is currently undergoing renovations to make room for City offices.
Rendering of what the Luther Building will look like once completed. (

A majority of the money, $3.3 million will come from the Bus Rapid Transit System's Montana corridor project which has been delayed by at least one year due to federal funding cuts. The money would have been the City's funding match, which it expects will now be pushed back to summer of 2016 at earliest.

The building's condition prior to
renovation work beginning.
The other $1.2 million will come from surplus funds from City projects that have already been completed. In all, the budget for the Luther Building is $13.4 million. Once complete, it will house the City's Information Technology and Engineering & Construction Management departments.

First MCA Tech Park Building Gets Named

'Cardwell Collaborative' to Break Ground in 2014

The Cardwell Collaborative building will be 83,000 square feet in size. (Renderings courtesy of MCA Foundation.)
New artistic renderings of the first building that will be part of the Medical Center of the Americas (MCA) Tech Park have been updated to include its new name: the Cardwell Collaborative. The MCA Foundation made the move after local businessman Jack Cardwell committed to giving a “major donation” to the initiative.
The newest pictures of what the $28 million biomedical research and technology commercialization building may look like when completed are concept images that are more refined than initial renderings. The 83,000 square foot structure will be the first on the 13 acre Tech Park located two blocks to the east of the Raynolds Street and Gateway East Boulevard intersection.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Weekly Edition, Issue 16

The Weekly Edition, Issue 16, has arrived! Take a look at the newest issue of our Weekly Edition, by clicking HERE.

In this edition:

  • New Vision for Downtown Structure: Rogers Furniture Building to See Rehabilitation
  • First MCA Tech Park Building Gets Named: 'Cardwell Collaborative' to Break Ground in 2014
  • Bonds Benefit Parks: Sunset Heights, Yucca Next in Line for Improvements and New Amenities

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Friday, July 19, 2013

Five Points Terminal Closes for Upgrades

Project will Prepare Facility for Rapid Transit Bus Units

Sun Metro officials recently announced the temporary closure of the Five Points Transit Terminal in central El Paso. Several bus routes are affected by the construction.

The mass transit department has created an Alternate Boarding Site for passengers to use along Tularosa Avenue and Raynor Street. The temporary boarding location includes shade canopies, trash cans, benches, and informational displays. 

Renovations on the Transit Terminal are expected to last through early 2014 and are necessary to prepare the facility for the 60-foot extended buses that will serve the Rapid Transit System under development by the City.
Alternate boarding site from

Crews will replace benches, improve landscaping, update restrooms, and refresh the exterior walls with cultured stone and stucco. WiFi access, TV monitors, electronic real-time signs, ticket vending machines, and new space for a concessions vendor will be added as new amenities.

For information on affected routes and the Alternate Boarding Site, visit

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Continuing Transformation: UTEP Construction Projects Advance

Crews are working on multiple projects throughout the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) campus, helping make the vision that officials have been promoting for the school’s future a reality. And in just over one year’s time, the campus may begin to look dramatically different than it does now.
A large area of the UTEP campus, currently under construction, will become Centennial Plaza, a central gathering space adjacent to the Student Union. It is scheduled for completion by fall of 2014. (Construction photos courtesy of Jonathan Macias)

From the Schuster Avenue project on the southern side of UTEP to the projects all over campus helping to make the area more pedestrian friendly, visitors to the school today will encounter what can be considered a large construction zone.

Construction crews at the Spur 1966 project along Schuster Avenue are currently working on the roundabout, laying the foundation and retaining walls for the pedestrian passageways beneath future vehicular traffic. The roundabout will control traffic from four directions, including a new westward extension of Schuster that will create an overpass that crosses Interstate 10 and connects with Paisano Drive. Students and visitors will walk between the campus and parking areas using walkways beneath the roundabout.

Transportation officials hope to have the entire 0.7 mile Spur 1966 project completed by August 2014, though the roundabout may be ready in time for this fall’s school semester. The $31 million dollar project is proceeding on schedule, according to recent updates at UTEP’s On the Move website (
Concrete and asphalt have been removed to make way for green spaces and pedestrian amenities at the future site of Centennial Plaza. 

More towards the center of UTEP, work continues on what the school is calling its “Campus Transformation,” an extensive project to create a pedestrian oasis for students, faculty, staff, and visitors. New green space will replace current streets and parking lots in many spots, and vehicular traffic will be extremely limited within the campus core. Approximately 10 acres in total will be affected.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Mixed-Income Community Breaks Ground

$22M ‘Eastside Crossings’ Will Create 188 Units

Housing officials broke ground recently on a new mixed income community on El Paso’s far east side, near the busy intersection of Joe Battle Boulevard North and Zaragoza Road. The Housing Authority of the City of El Paso (HACEP) ( has partnered with Hunt Companies and Investment Builders, Inc., both of El Paso, to make the $22 million project a reality. 
The development will have a mix of housing types. (Rendering from

Named ‘Eastside Crossings’ due to its proximity to a busy intersection along Loop 375, the project will bring 188 residential units to the area, a mix of affordable and market rate units. The unique development will combine 45 market rate units with 64 public housing units and 79 affordable housing units.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Weekly Edition, Issue 15

The Weekly Edition, Issue 15, has arrived! Take a look at the newest issue of our Weekly Edition, by clicking HERE.

In this edition:
  • Continuing Transformation: UTEP Construction Advances
  • Mixed-Income Community Breaks Ground: $22M 'Eastside Crossings' Will Create 188 Units
  • Five Points Terminal Closes for Upgrades: Project will Prepare Facility for RTS Buses
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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Editor's Note on Next Week's Newsletter

Next week's issue of the Weekly Edition will be published on Tuesday, July 16.
The issue will be released one day later than usual.

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Retail Buzz: Building Permits Shed Light on 'Fountains' Tenants

Ann Taylor Loft, Barriga’s Added to List of Possible Retailers for Center

A search of the City of El Paso’s E-Permit site is helping to uncover some additional retailers that may be headed to the future Fountains at Farah shopping center. Various permits issued by the City, such as for plumbing and electrical work, have tenant names attached to them.

Adding to the list of previously rumored stores and restaurants, the newest revelations come as the center continues on its march to completion with a planned opening date of October 2013. Clear progress has been made on the Promenade area of the Fountains, which will contain most of the lifestyle elements found at the site, according to developer Centergy Retail of Dallas.

Ann Taylor Loft, or simply Loft (, may add a new location at the center which would be the first in El Paso.  Loft has 516 stores throughout the country and operates under the Ann Inc. corporate banner. Ann Inc. has nearly one thousand stores nationwide averaging around 5,700 square feet each. The retailer maintains both Ann Taylor and Loft outlet stores at the Outlet Shoppes at El Paso.

Tyler, Texas-based Cavender’s Boot City ( could also be opening up this fall at the Fountains at Farah. The seller of western clothing, boots, and accessories operates over 40 stores, all hundreds of miles to the east of El Paso.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Work Begins this Month on San Jacinto Improvements

Plaza Will Close for 18 Months

The long awaited renovation of San Jacinto Plaza will begin this month. That’s according to the City’s Engineering and Construction Management Department. An open house was held in June which presented the City’s final plan to the public.
The City's master plan for San Jacinto Plaza. (

The plan includes many of the same amenities promoted throughout its different phases, including more shade trees, sidewalk benches, and an outdoor café with an adjacent seating area. Chess and game tables will be added as well as a horseshoe pit.
This rendering shows the center of the park, including the reflecting pool and "Sunner's Plaza." 

Also included will be a "splash deck" with interactive water features, an arroyo that runs underneath a walkway in the southeastern quadrant, and a central stage overlooking the reflecting pool/sculpture area in the center of the park.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

TI:ME at Montecillo Reveals Two Tenants

Shopping Center Hints at Retailers on Facebook

Two recent postings on the Facebook page for the upcoming TI:ME at Montecillo "non-traditional" shopping  center have revealed possible tenants that may occupy space when the center opens.

The pictures simply say "TI:ME at Montecillo Welcomes" with a logo for the potential new tenant situated below the wording. One picture on the site is for HommeWork (, a clothing boutique currently located on Stanton Street in the Cincinnati entertainment area near UTEP.

The second possible tenant is Modern Hookah ( which currently shares its address with The Garden restaurant and nightclub in downtown El Paso.

No word if these will be additional locations or if a move is planned for either retailer.

Aldea Seeks Frontage Road & Overpass Agreement (Updated)

Update: The Camino Real Regional Mobility Authority voted unanimously at its July 10, 2013 meeting to approve the agreement.

Original Story:
Deal May Help Green-Light Construction for SmartCode Project

The final prerequisite that could allow the Aldea SmartCode development to move forward may be settled this week at the Camino Real Regional Mobility Authority (CRRMA) meeting. A resolution on the agenda, if approved, could give the developer the green light to begin construction.

The resolution seeks the approval of an agreement between the CRRMA, in coordination with the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT), and the City of El Paso, Walmart Stores, and Geltmore Aldea, LLC, the project’s developer, to construct a new interchange and frontage road adjacent to the Aldea property.
The planned frontage road and overpass will provide access to the SmartCode Aldea development. An agreement with the CRRMA and City may mean the project will break ground as planned. (Image modified; Original:

Under the agreement, both the City and Geltmore will make contributions towards completion of the project, which will construct the interchange at Interstate 10 and the future Mesa Park Boulevard, about half a mile to the north of Executive Boulevard. 

In addition, a frontage road will be constructed from Executive to Mesa Park. According to schematic drawings included in the resolution, the frontage road will provide multiple access points to the development. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Weekly Edition, Issue 14

The Weekly Edition, Issue 14, has arrived! Take a look at the newest issue of our Weekly Edition, by clicking HERE.

In this edition:
  • Aldea Seeks Frontage/Overpass Agreement: Deal May Help Green-Light Construction
  • Retail Buzz: Building Permits Shed Light on 'Fountains' Tenants
  • Work Begins this Month on San Jacinto Improvements: Plaza will Close for 18 Months

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Saturday, July 6, 2013

Downtown Demo

Demolition is well underway on a property owned by the Borderplex Community Trust (BCT) in downtown El Paso, one of two parcels the real estate investment trust plans on tearing down near San Jacinto Plaza.

The City Council approved demolition of the remaining structure (left in photo), a Henry Trost designed building deemed “non-contributing,” overriding the Historic Landmark Commission’s earlier vote to deny the application.

Developers have indicated their intent to build a mixed-use project on the site, but immediate plans may include constructing a surface parking lot.

No other details or timelines have been made public by BCT representatives.

Friday, July 5, 2013

'Americas Managed Lanes' is Next Toll Project

CRRMA to Host Open House this Month

Transportation officials plan to add additional, tolled lanes to Loop 375 between the Zaragoza Port of Entry and Pellicano Drive in the coming years. Now, the Camino Real Regional Mobility Authority (CRRMA) and the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT) will host an open house on July 18th to answer the public’s questions concerning the project.
One additional lane in each direction will be added to Loop 375 in the median, and will most likely be a toll lane with the existing main lanes remaining free. This would require the filling-in of median gaps in current overpass structures, such as those at Socorro Road, Alameda Avenue, and North Loop. The toll lane would continue the lanes currently under construction along the Border Highway between US-54 and Zaragoza Road.

The CRRMA would also like to add frontage road bridges over the Union Pacific railroad tracks where the gateways now end. Currently, traffic travelling between Alameda Avenue and North Loop Drive must enter the freeway and exit in quick succession. 

The original Request for Qualifications posted last year at the CRRMA website pegs the project at $37.6 million. The CRRMA/TXDOT open house will be held Thursday, July 18, 2013, at Del Valle High School, 950 Bordeaux Drive, in the Lower Valley from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.

The Public Meeting Notice may be viewed at the CRRMA website,

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Final Walmart Decision Set for Today (Update: Walmart Withdraws Plans)

Update: Representatives for Walmart asked the City to delete the item from the agenda prior to today's Council meeting. Walmart has also withdrawn its rezoning application, according to City Rep. Emma Acosta. If so, the project may have been scrapped by the retailer.

Original Story:
City Council to Hold Vote on Rezoning Application

The City Council will decide this week whether or not a new Walmart Neighborhood Market store can be built at the corner of Chelsea Street and Montana Avenue in central El Paso. The retailer has appealed the City Plan Commission’s (CPC) earlier decision not to approve a zoning change that would have allowed the store to be constructed.
A flyer supporting the proposed Walmart store has circulated in the neighborhood around the commercial property, according to residents. (

Now, three-fourths of the Council will have to vote “yes” in order for the application to be approved. That is based on Texas Local Government Code section 211.006(d) which states that this ratio of majority is required when 20% or more of property owners within 200 feet of the affected property are opposed to the application.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Weekly Edition, Issue 13

The Weekly Edition, Issue 13, has arrived! Take a look at the newest issue of our Weekly Edition, by clicking HERE.

In this edition:

  • Final Walmart Decision Set for this Week
  • Americas Managed Lanes is Next Toll Project
  • Downtown Demo

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