The El Paso County Commissioners Court on Monday, February 8, will consider funding and procuring a historic and architectural resources survey. The proposed initiative is to inventory historic buildings, structures, and landmarks in Downtown El Paso, Chihuahuita, and Segundo Barrio in an effort to promote historic preservation, spur economic development, and increase heritage tourism.
The proposal calls for funding the survey using hotel occupancy tax or HOT revenues, not general fund dollars, in an amount not to exceed $140,000. However, grants will be sought to reduce the County’s financial commitment.
“This survey will allow us to understand the historical and architectural assets our community has, which will help future preservation efforts that tell our community’s story about where we came from, and more importantly, where we are going,” Commissioner David Stout said.
If approved, a historic resources survey could lead to the designation of a national historic district in Downtown El Paso, Chihuahuita, and Segundo Barrio. A national historic district designation has the potential to make income-producing property owners in that district eligible to receive state and federal historic tax credits worth up to 45 percent of the cost to rehabilitate their properties.
“A national historic district designation also has the potential to strengthen, increase, and incentivize preservation and revitalization efforts in Downtown El Paso and beyond,” Commissioner Stout added.
This has been a collaborative project with members of the El Paso County Historical Commission and has received the support of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Texas Historical Commission. Bradford Patterson, Director of Community Heritage Development at the Texas Historical Commission, will attend the Commissioners Court meeting to discuss the importance of this survey and answer any questions the Court or members of the public may have.
“This initiative falls well within the County’s goals to place greater emphasis on policies and strategies that promote growth and economic development, while preserving our County’s rich and deep history,” said Commissioner Stout.
In addition, a previous attempt to pursue a similar survey by the City of El Paso received letters of support from a range of institutions, experts, and stakeholders, including State Senator José Rodríguez, the City of San Antonio, the City of Austin, the City of Galveston, the Tom Lea Institute, Mesilla Valley Preservation, Inc., the Sunset Heights Neighborhood Improvement Association, the El Paso Preservation Alliance, Preservation Houston, Wright & Dalbin Architects, Inc., and In*Situ Architecture.