A survey of historic properties in downtown El Paso is about to be re-launched after a year-long delay.
Members of the El Paso County Commission have voted in favor of continuing with the project, a vote that is seen as a victory in preservationist circles.
Always at issue with the survey has been the possibility of the general downtown area being officially defined as a National Register of Historic Places historic district.
That designation would further complicate the already-complicated effort to build a $180 million multipurpose performing arts and entertainment center in the Duranguito neighborhood.
For more than two years now, residents of that neighborhood, preservationists, and community activists have argued that Duranguito, which is the home to several Victorian-era residences as well as a fire station designed by legendary architect Henry Trost, should be officially regarded as a historic section of the city.
But El Paso officials supporting the building of the new arena have maintained that the structures in Duranguito are too few in number, with the structures themselves not officially defined as historic, to realistically comprise a protected historic district.
In a larger context, some developers have maintained that the creation of a historic district in downtown El Paso will make it more difficult to spur downtown construction, while others have pointed out that a historic district would make it easier for property owners to receive tax credits for any property renovation projects.
The survey itself, to be conducted by the Austin-based Hardy Heck Moore and Associations, a historic preservation consulting company, could be completed sometime next year.
By Garry Boulard
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