Specific development plans for the former site of the American Smelting and Refining Company in El Paso may soon become more clear as the purchase of that land nears completion later this summer.
Nearly three years ago, members of the University of Texas at El Paso’s Regents Board put together a proposal offering to purchase the 458-acre site for $17 million.
The site’s ASARCO plant had been operational for nearly a century and was familiar to everyone in the city due to the 829 foot-tall copper smokestack, along with two smaller smokestacks, that were part of the facility.
That plant closed up its operations in 1999, with the vast majority of structures at the site demolished in the spring of 2013.
For years leading up to the UTEP purchase offer, school officials talked about redeveloping the ASARCO site for a mixed-use project, with even some part of the property set aside for athletic events.
Nearly two years ago, UTEP even announced plans to offer some 200 acres of the site to online retail giant Amazon, which was then talking of building a second headquarters beyond its Seattle base.
At the time of that announcement, UTEP President Diana Natalicio described the land in question as “real property in a prime location.”
The school’s ongoing relationship with the ASARCO site has additionally included the preserving of thousands of records, drawings, and photos that are now a part of the UTEP Library’s Special Collections Department.
By Garry Boulard