A possible break in a nearly two-year long impasse regarding the construction of a new $180 million multi-purpose performing arts center in downtown El Paso may be in the offing.
The City of El Paso, in response to a public communication from oil industry leader and investor J.P. Bryan, has said it is willing to consider incorporating an historic firehouse that is a part of the Duranguito neighborhood as part of the overall center site development.
That building was designed by architect Henry Trost in the early 1930s and is considered to be historically significant.
Construction of what is officially called the Multipurpose Performing Arts and Entertainment Center has been delayed by a series of lawsuits waged by community activists opposed to the Duranguito area being demolished in order to make way for the new facility.
Earlier this year the Third Court of Appeals issued a preliminary ruling prohibiting El Paso from demolishing any buildings in Duranguito.
Bryan, who has criticized building the new center in Duranguito, has helped to fund the legal efforts trying to stop the project.
On May 23 he suggested that the City of El Paso should spend $35 million renovating the existing Abraham Chavez Theater and preserving the Duranguito area as a historic district, with the buildings there being preserved and used for both private and non-profit uses.
Although the city responded by saying that that idea was not financially viable due to the “condition of the buildings in the area,” it did say that it would be willing to incorporate the Trost Fire House into the site for the new multipurpose center.
By Garry Boulard
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