El Paso’s iconic Downtown high-rise – The Blue Flame Building – will soon be re-lit under a new banner, the Housing Authority of El Paso’s HOME (Housing Opportunity Management Enterprises).
“The Grand Opening and lighting of the historic 66-year-old Blue Flame Building… symbolizes the rebirth and reimagining of public housing in El Paso as we know it,” HACEP officials shared.
“It also proudly symbolizes the reintroduction of the Housing Authority of the City of El Paso (HACEP) under its new name, HOME – Housing Opportunity Management Enterprises.”
The iconic skyscraper, located at 304 Texas Avenue, will be the site of a Grand Opening Ceremony Tuesday, July 27, 2021, including comments from HOME CEO Gerald Cichon, Mayor Oscar Leeser, Franklin Mountain Investments CEO Paul Foster and other distinguished El Pasoans.
The ceremony will begin a countdown to the re-lighting of the building’s iconic 21-foot plexiglass and steel Blue Flame, for which the building is named, later that evening.
“The historic designation of the Blue Flame Building at both the state and national level is a major win for El Paso,” states HOME Chief Executive Officer Gerald Cichon.
“We are bringing back to life a major high-rise that has sat vacant for too long, preserving a major piece of our city’s history, with no impact to local taxpayers, while also bringing in millions to Downtown El Paso.”
The name change is a reflection of the agency’s push to change affordable housing in El Paso and its status as the largest developer of affordable housing in Texas and a national leader in providing safe, clean affordable housing to its more than 40,000 residents.
HOME’s Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program has resulted in $1.3 billion in construction using public and private partnerships to transform 60 properties into safe affordable housing, proudly, using no local tax-payer dollars.
HOME’s properties provide affordable housing to 40,000 El Pasoans, or 6 percent of El Paso’s population, including 19,000 children and 3000 seniors.
The HOME Blue Flame project is a more than $36 million project to completely redevelop the iconic 18-story Blue Flame Building and help reignite the Downtown area
The former home of El Paso Natural Gas has been converted from office space into a mixed-use development that features 120 affordable apartments. Using both tax incentives for historically designated buildings and affordable-housing tax credits, in addition to private financing, the building will provide retail, office space and housing in the heart of Downtown El Paso.
The building was reimagined and renovated in partnership with Sundt Construction and Franklin Development.
The Blue Flame was originally built in 1954 as the official headquarters to the now-Houston based El Paso Natural Gas Company. It covers .32 acres of the Downtown El Paso footprint and stands as an 18-story high-rise, making it the third tallest building in Downtown.
Known for its “Blue Flame” globe that, when lit would correspond to the next day’s weather, the building was vacated on 1986 when EPNG relocated.
The El Paso Independent School District made the building their headquarters a few years later only to vacate it after determining the price to maintain the building was too expensive. The building was purchased from Franklin Mountain Management by HOME in December 2017.
The building’s iconic 21-foot flame is composed of plexiglass and steel and lit by 5,385 LED lights. The flame will once again serve as a weather beacon as it lights up with different colors to reflect the changing weather forecast – a blue flame indicates no change to weather, a red flame indicates warmer weather, gold indicates cooler weather is coming.
When the flame “flickers,” wind and/or precipitation is in the forecast.
The all-new lighting system is connected to AccuWeather, an app that forecasts the weather. AccuWeather created a one-of-a-kind program that syncs with the Blue Flame’s lighting system. The lighting system was installed by HOME’s partner, Giant Installs.