A move to create a historic district in downtown El Paso, which could provide tax credits for the renovation of certain buildings, has met been met with the opposition of owners of properties within the proposed district.
The defined district would encompass 144 acres and include some of the city’s most historically significant buildings, many designed in the Art Deco style of the early last century.
The district designation, taking in 262 individual buildings, would then be placed on the National Register of Historic Sites. With that designation, property owners could qualify for just under 50% of the costs of renovating any historic building within the district.
But what may have seemed like an appealing offering to some, has been regarded as a new form of bureaucracy to others as more than 100 property owners within the proposed district have told the Texas Historic Commission that they are opposed to the creation of the district.
Those property owners say the creation of a historic district will see the imposition of a set of costly regulations relating to the demolition or replacement of any of the properties within its borders.
Because the property owners in opposition represent more than half of the property owners in the entire defined area, that area, by law, cannot be placed on the National Register.
But proponents of the district say they are not disheartened, noting that it is a City of El Paso ordinance, and not a federal law, governing demolition and replacement projects within a historic district.
In response, the El Paso County Commissioners Court has now voted in favor of petitioning the city to get rid of the ordinance in question in the hope that the property owners will then drop their opposition to the historic district designation.
By Garry Boulard
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