An El Paso building, treasured by preservationists and historians for its Art Deco design, may soon see new life as a renovated property.
El Paso oilman and developer Paul Foster has secured the winning bid at auction to purchase the Kress Building, located in downtown El Paso at Mills Avenue and Oregon Street.
Foster’s $2.2 million bid was accepted after a competing $3 million bid was withdrawn.
Opened in 1938, the El Paso Kress Building was part of a larger national retail chain established by Samuel Kress and operating as full-service, multi-story department stores into the early 1980s.
In the years since, many of the Kress structures have been repurposed by new owners and turned into retail, residential, and office sites.
A large number of the Kress buildings, including the one in El Paso, have since been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The El Paso structure, according to author Carla Breeze in her book American Art Deco, is especially distinctive because of its “pale beige terra-cotta” with overall “synthesized decorative elements derived from the Alhambra in Spain.”
Located across the street from the San Jacinto Plaza, the Kress building has, according to city officials, fallen into disrepair in recent years under the ownership of El Paso real estate investor William Abraham.
The auctioning of the Kress building is part of a larger process being overseen by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Texas to settle some $30 million in debts owed by Abraham.
Foster, who is also the president of Franklin Mountain Management, has invested tens of millions of dollars restoring such historic El Paso buildings as the Plaza Hotel and the Anson Mills Building.
By Garry Boulard
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