A new proposal to renovate one of El Paso’s most popular entertainment venues has been aired by a member of the El Paso City Council.
The Abraham Chavez Theater, located at 1 Civic Center Plaza, has long been in need of upgrading.
The facility, opened in 1973 and known for its unusual sombrero-shaped size, has continued to host usually packed events right up to the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus.
With a 5,000 square-foot circular lobby and three levels of seating, the theater is regarded as one of the few examples of early 1970s Brutalist architecture in El Paso.
A study commissioned by the Council some two years ago estimated that it would cost around $35 million to bring the Chavez up to date.
Although no work has since taken place at the theater, El Paso City Representative Alexandra Anello recently suggested that city should take a second look at the proposal.
Within the context of those remarks, Anello also argued that an ongoing bid to build the Multipurpose Performing Arts and Entertainment Center in downtown El Paso should finally be abandoned.
That $180 million project has been the subject of endless litigation sparked by opponents angry that the arena’s construction will first require the demolition of the historic Duranguito neighborhood.
While earlier this year the Texas State Supreme Court denied a petition of review in the litigation, a firm schedule for building the new arena has not been announced.
Those opponents, including Texas oilman and preservationist J.P. Bryan, have said that the funding for the arena would be better spent renovating the Chavez Theater, as well as several other public structures in the city.
In response, City Representative Peter Svarzbein said he questioned “whether or not having a discussion about shifting funds for this project to another project,” wasn’t just a new form of attacking the arena proposal.
No action has so far been taken by the Council on the Chavez Theater proposal.
By Garry Boulard
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