My office spearheaded the effort to have a historical architectural survey done in our Downtown, Segundo Barrio and Chihuahuita. Because of this, we now know that our city’s core has more than 1 thousand historic buildings, which is one of the largest stocks of historic buildings in all the Southwest of the United States. We also know that nearly 200 of those buildings are eligible to be placed on the National Register for Historic Places. This also means we are able to apply for a National Register designation of a historical district that would span from 1-10 to the border and from Chihuahuita to Cotton Street. This will not only put us on the map for folks that travel to places for heritage tourism, but it will unlock the opportunity for those who own property within the district to have nearly half of their renovation costs paid for by the federal and state governments.
As you may know, I have been the only member on Commissioners Court and one of the few elected officials opposed to placing the Multipurpose Performing Arts Center that was approved by voters as part of the City’s 2012 Quality of Life Bond issuance in the area known as Union Plaza or Duranguito. According to historians, the area was part of Juan Maria Ponce de Leon’s ranch, has great significance to the Mexican Revolution and was the first platted neighborhood in all El Paso. There are a number of buildings within the footprint of the “arena” that our survey, as well as a study done by the City in 1998, recommend be placed individually on the National Register for Historic Places. One of the most notable of these buildings is a fire house designed by Henry Trost, one of the most well-known architects in the Southwest during the early 1900s. The loss of this building and others in the area would cause irreparable harm to our cultural patrimony, which is one of a number of reasons why I have pushed against the City and their plans to build the MPC in Duranguito.