The process to begin negotiations to acquire land in downtown for the development of an indoor arena was approved Tuesday by City Council. The process will begin with community meetings.
The $180 million Multipurpose Cultural and Performing Arts Center, or arena, approved by the voters as part of the 2012 Quality of Life Bonds will provide a venue for athletic, performance, cultural and recreational events in the heart of El Paso’s Downtown.
“Everyone impacted will be relocated in accordance with the law,” City Attorney Sylvia Borunda Firth said. “It is absolutely our goal to negotiate in good faith with property owners to reach agreement on purchase prices. We will work diligently to develop a relocation plan that works for each situation, keeping those who want to remain downtown in the area.”
The arena master planning area is a two-block area bounded by West San Antonio Avenue, South Santa Fe Street, West Paisano Drive and Leon Street. The City will not acquire all properties within the target area – only the smallest area possible footprint will be acquired to disrupt the fewest number of landowners and tenants.
“Our site selection objective was to find the best location possible that supports the vibrancy of downtown, builds on our existing assets, has easy access to highways, and impacts the fewest number of properties possible,” City Manager Tommy Gonzalez said.
The community meetings to be scheduled immediately will provide impacted property owners and tenants with the opportunity to discuss the land acquisition process and the development of the arena. The arena design process will involve additional public meetings.
The City has identified a total of 22 properties for the arena footprint. Out of those parcels five are vacant or surface lots, seven are commercial, seven are residential and two are city owned. The design scope will incorporate the existing fire stations and the Firefighters Memorial Park into the arena.
Fire Station #11 and the Police Area Representative (PAR) station located on Leon Street will remain open and operational.