Tuesday, January 21, 2014

What’s In Store For 2014

These Are the Major Projects to Look Forward to This Year

It’s a new year in El Paso, and several major development projects are scheduled to get underway or be completed in 2014. From freeway projects on the West Side to major medical facilities on the East Side, most parts of the Sun City should see major activity.

Here’s a look at some of the larger developments that should see progress this year.

Projects slated for El Paso this year include (counterclockwise from top left) I-10 Collector-Distributor Lanes, the Montecillo Town Center, the Triple-A Ballpark, San Jacinto Plaza’s renovation, the Gayle Greve Hunt School of Nursing building, the Airport Hotel/Retail Complex, Eastside Crossings, the Sierra Providence East Medical Center expansion, the William Beaumont Army Medical Center replacement hospital, and the Northgate Transit-Oriented Development.

I-10 Collector-Distributor Lanes
Plans to add collector-distributor (CD) lanes to Interstate 10 in West El Paso have been in the works for years, but the project recently got a shot in the arm in the form of funding support from the County of El Paso. Now, the $150 freeway project could be set for construction to begin by the end of 2014.

The CD lanes will create a buffer for the main lanes by “collecting” and “distributing” traffic to and from on- and off-ramps between Executive Center Boulevard and Mesa Street. The number of lanes will vary along the five mile stretch of I-10.

Initial renderings of the planned project included toll lanes when first unveiled years back, but now only include regular main lanes in the middle of the freeway. No word on whether or not toll lanes will be included after all. The future, toll-only Border Highway West will have an interchange with I-10 within the boundaries of this project.

Montecillo Town Center
West El Paso should see a good amount of progress on the highly anticipated Montecillo Town Center project which will include the Alamo Drafthouse theater location as an anchor. The SmartCode development’s “Entertainment District” will include street retail, a big box retail space, commercial office space, and 99 residential units, according to initial site plan details.

No concrete timeline has been disclosed by the project’s developer, though the Alamo Drafthouse’s announcement in March of 2013 indicated it would be soon, and has indicated plans to open in Fall of 2014. Crews finally broke ground in November 2013 and have been working to clear the site for construction ever since.

The project is located on Mesa Street across from the Venue at Montecillo apartment complex. Another retail and restaurant project at the development, TI:ME at Montecillo, should be completed this year.

Triple-A Ballpark
The project with the tightest timeline is undoubtedly the baseball stadium currently under construction in Downtown El Paso. With an opening date set for April, construction continues at breakneck speed at the site.

Only nine months have passed since the former City Hall was demolished in ten seconds to make room for the ballpark that will house the El Paso Chihuahuas Triple-A team. Now, steel beams continue to outline the skeletons of the main and outer buildings.

The $62 million project was designed by the Populous architectural firm of Missouri which specializes in sports facilities.

San Jacinto Plaza
Downtown El Paso’s main park, San Jacinto Plaza, has been undergoing renovation work for several months, and now the project is moving into its next phase. The plaza’s boundaries have been expanded by taking over the parking lane formerly adjacent to the park on all sides.

The City recently awarded the contract for the next phase to Basic IDIQ, Inc., and includes installation of all the new features and fixtures that residents will experience once San Jacinto Plaza opens. Initial completion estimates had the plaza reopening by the end of 2014, though that could be pushed back if Basic IDIQ uses the entire 360 days in the contract’s language to finish.
Gayle Greve Hunt School of Nursing / Cardwell Collaborative
Steel beams are now going up on the campus of the Medical Center of the Americas (MCA) in Central El Paso for what will become the Gayle Greve Hunt School of Nursing. The 34,000 square foot structure will be part of the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, which also includes the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine.
The Topping Ceremony was recently held for the Hunt School of Nursing in Central El Paso, one of 2014’s major projects in the city. (UMC of El Paso)

Construction began last year and will become the new home for the nursing school, which is currently housed in temporary quarters near Downtown El Paso. A donation from the Hunt Family Foundation helped form the school in El Paso in 2010. The new building is scheduled to be completed in 2015.

Nearby on the northern edge of the MCA campus, work should begin this spring on the Cardwell Collaborative, an 83,000 square foot building to be used for biomedical technology research by public and private entities. The building will be located along Gateway Boulevard East, near Raynolds Street, and may also be completed next year.

Airport Hotel/Retail Complex
One of the largest construction projects set to begin in 2014 will take shape on El Paso International Airport land. A $64 million project will bring a high-rise hotel and a retail center to 10-acres at the corner of Airway Boulevard and Boeing Drive.

The developer, EP Vida, LLC, received an incentives contract from the City in which it promises to create 300 jobs at the hotel/retail complex. According to preliminary site plans, the retail center will create an urban main street which ends at the hotel tower.

The City of El Paso’s 2013 Annual Report indicates the project should break ground in May of 2014, with completion slated for June 2016. Few details have been disclosed by the developer, but a rendering indicates the hotel may carry the Westin brand.

Eastside Crossings
Already underway in Far East El Paso is the project to bring a “mixed income” community to the city. Eastside Crossings will create 188 apartments that will have a mix of market rate, public, and affordable housing units.

The $22 million project is a partnership between the Housing Authority of the City of El Paso, Hunt Companies, and Investment Builders, Inc. Units at the complex, which is near the intersection of Joe Battle Boulevard and Zaragoza Road, may be ready for occupancy by fall of 2014.

Sierra Providence East Expansion
The Sierra Providence East Medical Center opened in Far East El Paso in 2008 in the fastest growing part of the city. Now, construction is ongoing on a new 145,000 square foot expansion that will add a four story tower to the site.

Room will be added for 30 additional surgical beds, 30 medical beds, a 12-bed cardiovascular intensive care unit, and 10 more beds for the emergency department. Ground broke on the project one year ago and is expected to be completed by the end of 2014.

The hospital is located at the corner of Joe Battle Boulevard and Edgemere Boulevard.

William Beaumont Army Medical Center Replacement Hospital
Quite possibly the largest and most expensive construction project in the reason is the William Beaumont Army Medical Center (WBAMC) replacement hospital in East Fort Bliss. The huge, $648 million contract was awarded last year to Clark McCarthy Healthcare Partners II.

The 1.13 million square foot facility will have a myriad of clinics in addition to its 135 hospital beds and 10 operating rooms. Some of the 30 specialty clinics include ones dedicated to behavioral health and oncology.

The hospital campus will also include over 4,000 parking spaces, a “two way approach” helipad, therapeutic gardens, and recreation trails. The contractor, Clark McCarthy Healthcare Partners II, received its notice to proceed in June of 2013 and expects to complete construction in 2016.

Northgate Transit-Oriented Development
The now-vacant site of the former Northpark Mall in Northeast El Paso may finally see activity this year, according to media reports from last year along with a recent grant awarded to the City to construct a transit terminal.

The development is envisioned as a mixed-use project with housing, shops, restaurants, and office space intermingling along tree-lined streets. Matthew McElroy, the director of the City Development Department, indicated in September that the project may break ground in 2014.

City officials received a $10.3 million federal grant to construct a transit terminal at the Northgate development. Three developers submitted proposals for the 30-acre site last year, but the City has yet to disclose any more details about the plans.