• September 30, 2020
 City Council to Seek Alternate Site for the Mexican American Cultural Center

Rendering of proposed Mexican American Cultural Center of El Paso, formerly known as the Hispanic cultural center.

City Council to Seek Alternate Site for the Mexican American Cultural Center

On Tuesday, El Paso City Council voted to look at alternative ways to deliver the voter-approved Mexican American Cultural Center (MACC).

Council reached this decision after the City and Mexican American Cultural Institute (MACI) were unable to come to an agreement on the terms of the memorandum of understanding proposed by MACI.

As part of its vote, Council directed City staff to pursue alternate site locations for the Mexican American Cultural Center and to develop it using the budget approved by voters.

According to a Tuesday news release, “The City looks forward to working with all community partners including MACI to realize this project…the City remains committed to delivering a world-class cultural center as approved by voters and complemented by existing cultural assets within the City’s portfolio that includes the El Paso Museum of Art, the El Paso Museum of History and the El Paso Museum of Archaeology.”

The MACC was approved by voters in 2012 as one of the signature projects included in the Quality of Life Bonds with an original project budget of $5.7 million.

In August 2015, the 18 member Mexican American Cultural Center Subcommittee recommended the MACC be located at the Abraham Chavez Theatre despite the significant escalation of costs as presented by City staff.

In January of 2016, Council accepted the subcommittee’s recommendation to locate the cultural center at the Abraham Chavez Theatre with an estimated cost of $35.7 million. MACI, whose members comprised nine of the 18 members of the original subcommittee, was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) non-profit in summer of 2016 with the goal of becoming the City’s partner in managing the cultural center and raising $20 million towards capital costs.

Since mid-2016, MACI has been formally incorporated with the ability to raise funds. Prior to that MACI was able to raise funds through non-profit fiscal sponsor Fiesta de las Flores. However, since their incorporation, MACI has not made significant progress in fundraising necessary for the escalated project costs if the Abraham Chavez Theatre was the site.

Cities including San Antonio and City El Paso have seen successful campaigns through partnerships without a formal memorandum of understanding.

Examples include:

  • 1991, San Antonio Public Library Foundation, an independent 501(c)(3), began a fundraising campaign to assist the City of San Antonio in the construction of a new Central Library. Bond set aside approximately $75 million for the library construction
    • Library Foundation was tasked with the job of raising an additional $32 million for furniture, fixtures, equipment technology, renovation of a City-owned parking garage and other amenities. The goal was met and surpassed.
  • 2010, San Antonio River Foundation, an independent non-profit organization, began capital campaign to improve urban reach of San Antonio River
    • City project, funded through bonds and Hotel Occupancy Tax funds, for construction
    • Foundation, capital campaign raised $30 million, for art, the Dam, landscaping and other upgrades
  • 2013, San Antonio Botanical Garden, granted $2.6 million bond funding, land and facilities owned by City
    • Botanical Society runs the Garden
    • Currently in $15 million capital campaign to support site improvements

El Paso examples:

  • Chalk the Block private sector committee has raised more than $800,000 in support of program over the 10 year history of the festival without a memorandum of understanding in place
  • El Paso Children’s Museum Foundation, raised more than $1 million before a formal memorandum of understanding was executed with the City

Staff Report

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4 Comments

  • I’ve been pushing several things regarding what I call the Latino Cultural Center for several months now…
    Read the following from my archived JudBurgessForElPaso.net website when I was running for City Council District 2 —

    “I feel the current proposed downtown location for the Latino Cultural Center, the rock bottom budget and the city’s misguided attempt to somehow morph it out of the unsightly Abraham Chavez center is insulting to Latinos. More of a way to appease El Pasoans while the money-losing arena and downtown special interests get the $180,000,000.

    At this point, the Latino Cultural Center is slated to receive just above $5 million with additional funds nearing $30 million to be fundraised. That is NOT ENOUGH to build a decent, let alone world-class Latino Cultural Center that will be the pride of El Paso and the envy of America.

    It’s time El Paso, to reclaim our taxpayer dollars from the downtown special interests, investors, property owners and the politicians that they own and re-invest them into REAL SOLUTIONS for everyone.

    Let’s save $80,000,000 of our hard-earned taxpayer dollars by killing the arena and investing the remaining $100,000,000 into building a world-class Latino Cultural Center where the Lincoln Center currently sits neglected and idle.

    We can pocket the tax savings or use it for critical infrastructure needs that El Pasoans are demanding such as paved streets, well lighted neighborhoods, additional law enforcement patrol, etc.

    • • • • • • •

    It’s time to re-invest into our city’s neglected areas that will build on El Paso’s culture, heritage and artistic pride while providing new areas for Latino development – tienditas, Latino art galleries, non-profits that reach out to the poor, sports venues (soccer stadium), mom & pop restaurantes, sculpture gardens with local artists represented…the list goes on and on.

    Imagine the LCC serving as the cornerstone of this potentially vibrant and unique Latino zone.

    Imagine famed El Paso Latino art collector Juan Sandoval donating his art collection to the LCC as his legacy to El Paso? (I’ve spoken to him about the possibility, he’s weighing his options)

    Imagine school children from all over town visiting the LCC and looking out from the top floors, seeing the potential their lives have as they view a wide open future that stretches beyond El Paso?

    It’s not hard to imagine.”

    • I’m glad that you have never won any city run elections,and I know that you’ll never win any either.

  • I have an alternative site, Juarez!

    • It Figures that a Racist White Nationalist like Mikey aka on the Biased Racist KVIA forum commenting as Mad Mike 272. Would consider Juarez as his alternative choice for the MACC.
      Mad Mikey combined with Jud Burgess opinion as to what to do with the MACC is just the Joke of the Pathetic Day!

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