Major changes are in store for a couple of well-known downtown properties: the DeSoto Hotel and the adjacent parking lot.
A friend of mine, who lives at the De Soto, Lloyd Lacy Jr. was telling me about new developments at the historic hotel.
“I don’t know too much about it,” says Lloyd. “I heard around the grapevine that it might be sold, torn down, or renovated. I hope it doesn’t.”
For Lloyd, it’s one of the few places in El Paso that he can afford, on what he receives in disability.
Another resident – Frank – also said that someone had told them the same thing. “I was told that they could be renovating,” said Frank. “The fire exits, roof and other things.”
Confusion seemed to be the order of the day among the De Soto residents. So, I reached out to Oscar Andrade, the current owner of the De Soto.
“We have nothing concrete yet,” says Oscar Andrade. “We don’t have a contract yet, but the building is being listed for sale.”
The asking price? $699,000
So that the residents of the De Soto would know that there are going to be different people passing through the building, Mr. Andrade informed them that he is selling the building.
“It’s always good to let them know what’s going on,” said Andrade. “It is their home.”
The De Soto began as the Hotel St. Louis in 1905 and currently houses about forty-seven residents. What will happen to those who call the De Soto home, if it sells?
“I own other properties,” said Mr Andrade. “If I can relocate some of the tenants, I will. They can stay with me.”If the new owner wants to keep things as is, of course, the residents don’t have to move.
As for the future of the hotel?
“It’s time for the next chapter in the De Soto’s history,” Andrade said, as our conversation was ending. “It needs somebody more creative than I am to do something with it.”
That’s the news from the De Soto; but, there is a bit more.
While I was at the De Soto Thursday morning, talking to Frank and looking for Lloyd, I noticed two men, with survey equipment, working around the block and in the parking lot at the corner of North Stanton and East Mills.
I asked them if they were surveying the De Soto and the told me that they were marking the property line for the parking lot? Why? According to the workers, there is a new building going up in that location.
El Paso is growing, and more and more things are coming to downtown El Paso. With all this growth, we are losing pieces of our history, and losing access to iconic points of interest. In the case of the new building, we stand to lose two murals.
The new building, I’m told, is going to abut the building at 300 South Main.
On the back of this building, over looking the parking lot, is a large mural of a man wearing a cowboy hat and holding his fits up defiantly.
‘Animo sin Fronteras’ was painted by El Mac; for him, it seems, his days are numbered.
As for the other – the one on the side of the De Soto – this mural, by Mr “Pano” Mendoza, features some notable boxers from El Paso.
What’s the future of this mural? Will we lose it? Or will the Hall of Fame mural be relegated to a dingy three-foot-wide alley?
I don’t know the answers to those questions.
I did reach out to the El Paso Boxing Hall of Fame to see if they’ve heard anything. I spoke with Thomas McKay of the El Paso Boxing Hall of Fame and told him about the new building going up next to the mural.
McKay, who is 84 years old, a boxer and cancer survivor.
“Can we devise a plan to save it,” was the first thing Mr McKay said.
“We would be losing serious history,” says Mr McKay, “Future generations will never remember it. When we die off, it’s gone. We take the memory with us.”
Mr. McKay is right, we’ve lost so much, and the memories are beginning to fade. He has an idea.
“It was a royal deal to get it done. It was special,” Mr McKay said. “If we can move it, or recreate it, we need to. We need to save this one monument of El Paso’s history and past.”
He’s right. He has a point. We need to save this, and other pieces that are important to us. How can we do that?
Is there anyone who knows how to move a large piece? Is there a way to raise funds to recreate it in another part of town? If so, let’s get moving and get it done!
Could we lose this piece of history? As I said, I don’t know. With the new building going up right next to the De Soto, and with the De Soto being sold, its future is up in the air.