Thursday, August 29, 2013

Updated: Unnamed 'Economic Development' Projects on City Council Agenda


Former Mayor John Cook had planned to speak to City Council on Tuesday to lobby for a new downtown hotel. That's according to an El Paso Time's story concerning Cook's attempt to register as a lobbyist.

Cook appeared at City Council on behalf of Jim Scherr, the El Paso businessman who turned the abandoned International Hotel building into the gleaming DoubleTree Hotel in Downtown a few years back. The story indicates that Cook was trying to lobby City support for a "new" hotel for Downtown but was denied the opportunity due to a City ordinance preventing elected officials from becoming lobbyists within 24 months of leaving office.

Also, after the City Council meeting, City Manager Joyce Wilson and City Rep. Carl Robinson indicated that multiple proposals have been made for the future use of the Cohen Stadium property. Wilson briefed City Representatives in executive session behind closed doors. City officials will weight their options and decide which direction to take for the property. No details on the proposals were released to the public.

Original Story:

Items to be Discussed in Executive Session 

El Paso’s City Council will discuss four items at this week’s meeting labeled as “Economic Development” projects, all in Executive Session. Three of the projects are located in Northeast El Paso and one is set for downtown. The projects have not been made public and will be discussed behind closed doors. 
Officials could weigh their options for the future of the Cohen Stadium site at the next City Council meeting.  A water park and a soccer stadium/complex are two of the rumored possibilities for the 50 acre site.

Two of the items are related to building an “entertainment facility” in the Northeast part of town and could be in relation to the City-owned Cohen Stadium and the 50 acre site on which it sits. The El Paso Diablos baseball team played its final game ever at the stadium this past weekend and no concrete plans exist for the use of the facility in the future. 

Retail Buzz: NE El Paso to Get More Retail Options

North Hills Crossing May Bring New Stores, Restaurants 

UPDATE: For the latest list of proposed stores, read our latest story on North Hills Crossing by clicking here: Work Begins on North Hills Crossing

Original Story: 
Residents of Northeast El Paso may have several more retailers and restaurants to choose from in the coming years as the North Hills Crossing shopping center takes shape. The 28 acre center will be located at the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and US-54.

The 200,000+ square foot power center has two site plans at the website of RJL Real Estate consultants (, one that is part of the website and another shown on the marketing brochure. Each site plan differs but shows a mix of big box and medium sized retailers as well as restaurant options.
The North Hills Crossing shopping center may bring several new retailers to Northeast El Paso. These retailers are seen on the brochure version of the site plan. Tenants are oftentimes used for illustrative purposes by developers and subject to change. (Not an official site plan; not to scale.)

Both plans include retailers such as Ross, Marshall’s, Michael’s, Rack Room Shoes, Office Depot, and restaurant Taco Cabana. Restaurants and smaller retail shops will be located on “outparcels” along the frontage road and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

New Retailers for Fountains?

Center’s Site Plan Reveals Possible Unannounced Tenants

A Fountains at Farah site plan showing “confirmed” tenants was recently revealed on KVIA newscasts and at the news outlet’s website showing possible tenants that have not yet been announced or rumored. The retailers, a woman’s clothing store and a contemporary restaurant, may be added to the promenade area of the Fountains.
Typical new patio design for Kona Grill, from an investor presentation at

Altar’d State (, based in Knoxville, Tennessee, is a woman’s clothing and accessory retailer formed in 2009. The company began as a “modern Christian” retail store and coffee shop, but evolved into a women’s fashion boutique in 2010. Altar’d State now has nearly 30 locations in the United States, mostly in the southern and Midwest areas of the country, including three in Texas. The company stresses policies that “give back” to the community such as donating a percentage of sales to charities on certain days or selling brands from partners that have similar guidelines.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Weekly Edition, Issue 21

The Weekly Edition, Issue 21, has arrived! Take a look at the newest issue of our Weekly Edition, by clicking HERE.

In this edition:
  • Unnamed 'Economic Development' Projects on City Council Agenda
  • New Retailers for 'Fountains'? Center's Site Plan Reveals Possible Unannounced Tenants
  • Retail Buzz: Northeast El Paso to Get More Retail Options

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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Designer Studio Announces 'Fountains' Location

California-based retailer Designer Studio will open a location at the Fountains at Farah shopping center this coming October. It will be the company's third store, according to a press release issued earlier today.

According to the retailer's website, Designer Studio offers designer brands for men, women, and children with a "personalized shopping experience." The store's website offers brands like Ben Sherman, Lacoste, and Moschino, among many others.

Designer Studio was founded in 1995 with a single store in San Ysidro, California. In 2011, a second store opened in Mercedes, Texas.
Store opening date from the retailer's website.

The El Paso boutique will fill a 3,000 square foot space in the promenade area of the Fountains. The store will open on October 1, 2013, according to the website.

Designer Studio website:

Closer Look: Convention Center North Pedestrian Pathway

Construction could begin as soon as September on a new pedestrian pathway that will connect the city’s arts and museum district to Union Plaza. Dubbed the Convention Center North Pedestrian Pathway, the corridor will take the place of a parking lot and maintenance paths on the northern side of the Convention Center. The project also includes enhancements to Durango Street from San Antonio Avenue to the baseball stadium site and portions of Main Drive and Sheldon Court near Arts Festival Plaza.

The pedestrian corridor will have shade structures, stamped and colored concrete pathways, landscaping, lighting, and street furnishings. Construction will take place in three phases, with areas nearest the future ballpark seeing work first.
Pedestrian pathway illustrative and phasing plan. (City of El Paso)

Phase 1 will consist of enhancements to three areas, the first being a 22,000 square foot section of Durango Street, mainly along the bridge that takes vehicles and pedestrians over railroad tracks to the west of the Convention Center. According to the site plan, Durango Street may go from its current four lanes to a two lane street with half of the bridge structure dedicated to pedestrian traffic.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Airport Presents Five-Year Capital Improvement Plan

$139M in Projects Includes Rental Garage, Runway Work

City Council approved the Department of Aviation’s five-year capital improvement plan this week which includes $139 million worth of projects planned for the El Paso International Airport. The projects listed in the plan should begin between fiscal years 2014 and 2018.

The largest single project will be the $45 million expansion of the rental car lot into a parking structure. The three level garage will be used by rental car companies for pick up and return of automobiles used by travelers. The Consolidated Rental Car Facility will be located immediately to the west of El Paso International Airport's main terminal, steps away from the baggage claim area.
Concept design of the rental parking structure in the Southern Industrial Park Master Plan.

Included in the structure will be Ready and Return areas, customer kiosks, fueling and car wash areas, a light maintenance facility, and vehicle storage for use by the rental companies. It will include 650-700 parking stalls and be designed using Smart Growth and Congress for New Urbanism principles, including a focus on pedestrian accessibility.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Fading Funding

Project Dollars in Question
Some El Paso development and transportation projects may be in danger due to reversed or unrealized state funding. Four high profile projects have recently been delayed or endangered due to state tax dollars that have been reallocated or simply haven’t materialized.

Bike Share Program

Earlier this month, local officials were dealt a blow when the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT) decided not to provide state funding for a city bike sharing program. The City of El Paso and the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) had already approved funds to go toward the program which would create a fleet of bicycles that residents of central and downtown El Paso could rent and use.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Triple-A Schedule Details

Home Opener is April 11th

MountainStar Sports Group released the 2014 Triple-A regular season schedule today for the yet unnamed ball club that's coming to El Paso next year. The schedule is made up of 144 regular season games, 72 of which will be at home.

The team will begin play with an eight game road trip before coming home for a four game stint at the new stadium. Home opening day will be April 11, 2014 when the El Paso team takes on the Reno Aces out of Nevada. Reno will also be the team's first opponent on the road in the season opener.
The Triple-A ball club will begin the season with eight road games.

Following the first four games at home, the El Paso team will set off on a 12 game road trip, four games each at the Albuquerque Isotopes, the Las Vegas 51s, and the Sacramento River Cats. The team returns home for eight games after that.

It could be a tough April for the ball club as 20 out of 27 games are on the road. The team will enjoy longer home stretches later on in the season. There are no details yet as to the start time of home games.

See the entire schedule by clicking here: 2014 El Paso Triple-A Schedule

Weekly Edition, Issue 20

The Weekly Edition, Issue 20, has arrived! Take a look at the newest issue of our Weekly Edition, by clicking HERE.

In this edition:
  • Fading Funding: Project Dollars in Question
  • Airport Presents Five-Year Capital Improvement Plan
  • Closer Look: Convention Center North Pedestrian Pathway

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Friday, August 16, 2013

City Continues Pocket Park Trend

West Side Property to be Transformed

Another vacant property will soon become a neighborhood pocket park in west El Paso, and the City will hold a community meeting next week to inform the public about the project. The City has awarded the contract for the Fiesta/Balboa Park and construction should begin in late August.
The new pocket park will take the place of a leveled residential lot.

The property currently consists of a concrete slab, driveway, and sidewalks for what used to be a single family home. Construction crews will clear out the .20 acre lot and install a new basketball court, playground equipment, colored concrete sidewalks, rock walls with wrought iron detail, a landscape scheme with irrigation, and lighting fixtures.

The small, pocket park will serve the neighborhood in the surrounding streets. Currently, residents must cross busy Mesa Street to the north or travel over half a mile to the southwest to reach the nearest parks.

City officials will hold the community meeting about the project on Thursday, August 22, 2013, at 5:30 p.m. at Putnam Elementary School, located at 6508 Fiesta Drive.

Funding for the project comes from 2012 Quality of Life bonds approved by voters. The $197,777 contract was awarded to Black Stallion LB Construction of El Paso in May. The park should be ready for use in February 2014. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Filling the Pebble Hills Gap

City Makes Moves to Connect Boulevard to Zaragoza Road

Drivers who want to continue on Pebble Hills
Boulevard must take a long alternate route.
Drivers traveling east on Pebble Hills Boulevard currently hit a dead end just about 800 feet west of Zaragoza Road. On the other side of Zaragoza, Pebble Hills continues to the east. It’s a gap in the City street that has existed for many years, and a problem officials are trying to fix.

Unwitting drivers and neighborhood residents alike must take alternate routes, some through residential streets, to get to Zaragoza Road. Tierra Mina Drive and Tierra Sonora Drive have become makeshift detour routes in the area.

Two properties stand in the way of the completion of Pebble Hills Boulevard in this area, and an item on the City Council meeting agenda indicates that officials have made “several” offers to the owners of the properties to acquire the land.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

City Upgrades Ballpark Construction Cam

Visitors to the City’s website ( will notice that the Ballpark Construction Cam has been upgraded and now offers a crisper view of activities at the site of the future Triple-A stadium. The live feed can also be viewed at the Triple-A ball club’s website,
A recent screen capture from the Ballpark Construction Cam at

The live camera, which was mounted at the top of the downtown DoubleTree Hotel earlier this year, provides a bird’s eye view of construction crews working to make the stadium a reality. Visitors to the cam website can get a live video feed at any time of the day.

Vertical construction has clearly started at the site, with ground-level pillars and walls going up at the base of the main stadium structure. The second-level foundation is now being worked on at the western edge of the property which will be street-level with Durango Street.

The website also contains
a link to the live video stream.
Completion of the stadium is scheduled for April 2014, in time for opening day of the Pacific Coast League. The 9,500 seat stadium’s most recent construction cost is set at $60.8 million. It will include amenities such as 23 suites, a “Home Plate Club” which will include a bar, 300 club seats, a retail store, “party decks,” a Kids Zone, some outfield seating, and 360 degree access around the park, according to the website.

The stadium was designed by the Populous architectural firm, headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri.

Loop 375 Northeast May Open by End of 2013

Construction 'Well Ahead' of Schedule

An update that will be presented to the Camino Real Regional Mobility Authority (CRRMA) at its upcoming board meeting states that the Loop 375 freeway project in northeast El Paso could open sometime in December. The project’s contractor, J.D. Abrams of Austin, is “well ahead” of schedule, according to the 2nd quarter Progress Report.
The three new freeway overpasses can be seen in this photograph taken from the Transmountain rest area. (CRRMA)

Multiple milestones are highlighted in the report, including completion of the excavation work under US-54 that will create an underpass for Loop 375. The freeway will dip underneath both the US-54 freeway lanes and the gateway frontage roads.

Work continues on all three street overpasses that are part of the project, at Kenworthy Drive, Rushing Boulevard, and Alcan Avenue, mainly preparation for the laying down of freeway lanes. This will be followed by barrier work.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

MountainStar Releases Seating Map, Season Ticket Prices

Tickets Average as Low as $6 Per Game

Media outlets were abuzz today with the release of a Seating Map and a chart of season ticket prices for the Triple-A ball club that will begin play in El Paso next year. A total of eleven zones make up the seating areas, and ticket prices are broken down into yearly and per-game amounts. There will be 72 home games per year.

Only season ticket prices have been released and begin at $504 for one season, an average of $7 per game. Fans willing to purchase a five year package will spend $432 a year, or an average of $6 per game. These are located in the two side upper deck areas of the stadium.
The most expensive seats are located in Zone A, labeled the Dugout Club on the Seating Map. A five year commitment is required for this section at a price of $2,016 per year, or $28 a game. Those who purchase five year season tickets will have the price locked in and will not see annual increases.

MountainStar Sports Group, owner of the Triple-A farm club that will move to El Paso from Tucson in the next several months, has not released single game ticket prices.

To see the Seating Map and Season Ticket Prices document (PDF), click here: Seating Map & Season Ticket Prices

Artspace Not Chosen for Housing Funds

State Awards Tax Credits to Three Other Area Projects

The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) has decided not to award any tax credits to the Artspace Lofts artist housing project planned for downtown El Paso. The agency opted to give tax credits to three other qualifying projects in the area.
Artist's rendering of what the Artspace Lofts project may look like if built in downtown El Paso. (

Artspace had applied for $1.077 million a year for ten years in housing credits but was ranked lowest out of six El Paso projects that applied under the “Urban” category. Officials with the project may apply again in the future, or may look for financing assistance elsewhere.

If built, the project will bring 51 affordable live/work units in a five-story building to the corner of Missouri Avenue and Oregon Street, next to the downtown Doubletree Hotel. It will also include 7,500 square feet of multi-purpose non-profit space.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Paul Foster Partners to Form Construction Company

Refining Mogul Joins with CF Jordan to Form Jordan Foster Construction

Two of the cities most notable businessmen have joined forces to form a new construction partnership. Paul Foster, founder and Executive Chairman of Western Refining, has joined forces with C.F. Paco Jordan, chairman of CF Jordan Construction, to form Jordan Foster Construction, LLC.
From left, C.F. Paco Jordan, Paul L. Foster, and Darren Woody. (
CF Jordan Construction will perform work currently in progress under the same name. Projects that began after August 8, 2013, will carry the new Jordan Foster Construction name. Longtime Paco Jordan partner Darren Woody will serve as President and CEO of Jordan Foster Construction.

Weekly Edition, Issue 19

The Weekly Edition, Issue 18, has arrived! Take a look at the newest issue of our Weekly Edition, by clicking HERE.

In this edition:

  • Artspace Not Chosen for Housing Funds: State Awards Tax Credits to Three Other Area Projects
  • Loop 375 Northeast May Open by End of 2013
  • City Upgrades Ballpark Construction Cam
  • Filling the Pebble Hills Gap: City Makes Moves to Connect Blvd. to Zaragoza Road
  • City Continues Pocket Park Trend: West Side Property to be Transformed

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Thursday, August 8, 2013

Retail Buzz: More 'Fountains' Retailers Revealed

Charlotte Russe, Stanton Optical Join Tenant Lineup

The opening of the Fountains at Farah shopping center in east El Paso is a mere two months away, and new retailers have been revealed through job postings and contractor websites. Meanwhile, store signs continue to go up at the current construction site.

Employment opportunities have been posted online for a new Charlotte Russe ( retail store that will occupy a 5,300 square foot space on the center’s lifestyle promenade. The retailer of women’s clothing has over 500 stores nationwide, including one at the Outlet Shoppes at El Paso. Charlotte Russe is headquartered in San Francisco.

A contractor’s website has revealed mechanical work up for bid for a Stanton Optical ( location at the Fountains.  The seller of eyewear products is headquartered in Palm Springs, Florida, and has over 100 stores in the U.S. This will be the retailer’s first store in El Paso. 

Progress can clearly be seen at the project as signs for multiple tenants are now up, including Nordstrom Rack, TJ Maxx/HomeGoods, and Dick’s Sporting Goods. Other retailers have erected temporary “Coming Soon” signs, such as Barne’s & Noble and Jared The Galleria of Jewelry. 

Two new LED signs have also gone up on different ends of the center, both along Gateway West Boulevard. In addition, traditional exterior pylon signs can also be seen along the front of the Fountains. Landscape work is also well underway; newly planted greenery will help shade patrons.

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

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

UTEP Updates: RTS, Kerbey Projects Add to Construction

Two City projects are adding to the current construction taking place in the vicinity of the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) campus. A mass transit project and a traffic calming project will affect areas around UTEP, according to the school’s On the Move website (

Ground was broken earlier this year on the Mesa Bus Rapid Transit System (RTS) corridor, and crews are now working on constructing the platform that will serve as the Glory Road RTS station. The station will sit across the street from the Glory Road Transfer Center and Parking Garage.
A Brio RTS station will be built at the Glory Road Transfer Center. (Rendering:

The City’s Brio RTS line will run from the Downtown Transfer Center to the West Side Transfer Center and will make a stop at UTEP. This is the first of four corridors that are planned for the RTS line. The others are Alameda Avenue, Montana Avenue, and Dyer Street.

The second project involves Kerbey Avenue to the east of the UTEP campus in the residential area. The City will be installing roundabouts at three intersections as traffic calming measures at Florence Street, Saint Vrain Street, and Blanchard Avenue.
Rendering of what Wiggins Plaza will look like once complete.

Crews will also re-stripe the street as part of the project. Construction on the roundabout project should begin this month and be completed in 45 days.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Nordstrom Rack, TJ Maxx/HomeGoods Reveal 'Fountains' Opening Dates

Two big box retailers coming to the Fountains at Farah center on El Paso's east side have revealed grand opening dates at their respective websites. The developer has not yet announced an official opening date for the center but has given a general grand opening month of October.
Screenshot from

Nordstrom Rack has revealed that it will open at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, October 10, 2013, though grand opening events will begin at 8:00 a.m. The retailer will hold a "Rally at the Rack" with music, "breakfast treats," and giveaways, including 30 $100 gift cards. One $1000 gift card will be given away along with early access to the store. The announcement can be found at the Rack website,
Screenshot from

A TJ Maxx/HomeGoods store will open at 8:00 a.m. on Sunday, October 6 according to its website, It will be located in the same big box area of the center as the Rack store. This will be the first location for each store in El Paso.

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

East Side Roundup

Cinemark, Hospital Projects Rule Landscape

With so much project news seemingly focused on the downtown and lower west side areas of El Paso, it’s easy to overlook development and transportation projects occurring in the most populated part of the city, the east side.

The east side has the largest population of any of El Paso’s areas, holding more than one third of the city’s residents. The zip codes generally thought of as covering the east side of the city, 79925, 79935, 79936, and 79938, have a combined 223,289 residents, according to the 2010 Census. In comparison, that is more than twice as large the population that Las Cruces had in 2010.

Here’s are some of the larger-scale projects the east side is currently experiencing.

Cinemark Theater

Construction is well underway on El Paso’s newest movie theater on the city’s east side. Cinemark USA is building a 14 screen theater at the corner of Montana Avenue and Rich Beem Boulevard about a mile east of Loop 375.
Front elevation of the future Cinemark theater in east El Paso. (

Southwest Land Development of El Paso is developing the 20 acre shopping center, which is part of the larger Hueco Club Estates development, a residential subdivision which is using smart growth principles in its design. This includes making the neighborhoods more walkable and incorporating alleys for rear garage access for homes.
Cinemark's far east El Paso theater will have 14 screens when it opens.

The theater, announced in September of 2012, will be the chain’s fifth in El Paso once it is completed, and the third on the east side. Tinseltown USA at the Las Palmas Marketplace and Cinemark Cielo Vista are also within the wide boundaries of the east side.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Weekly Edition, Issue 18

The Weekly Edition, Issue 18, has arrived! Take a look at the newest issue of our Weekly Edition, by clicking HERE.

In this edition:

  • East Side Roundup: Cinemark, Hospital Projects Rule Landscape
  • Retail Buzz: More 'Fountains' Retailers Revealed
  • UTEP Updates: RTS, Kerbey Projects Add to Construction

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Thursday, August 1, 2013

Airway Interchange Design Changes

Project Removes Fins, Adds Turbines

El Paso’s City Council received an update from the Camino Real Regional Mobility Authority (CRRMA) at its July 23, 2013 meeting regarding the design of the upcoming Airway Interchange beautification project. It is the first part of the I-10 Aesthetic Improvement Project, a highway improvement project that stretches from Transmountain Road to the Americas Interchange.
Wind turbines will be lit at night, creating light sculptures. (Renderings: CRRMA)

The newest design concept presented by the CRRMA has completely removed the bridge “fins” that were a large part of the previous design. Vicki Scuri, the artist chosen by the City to design the I-10 aesthetics project, had chosen fins due to the shape; the fins were inspired by flight, as seen in the shape of a bird’s feathers and the cross section of an airplane’s wing.