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Home | Tag Archives: el paso city council

Tag Archives: el paso city council

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

City Approves Agreement that will Help Revitalize Historic Paso del Norte Hotel

The revitalization efforts in downtown continue as the El Paso City Council today approved an incentive agreement that will revitalize one of downtown’s most significant historic structures, the Hotel Paso del Norte (formerly known as the Camino Real).

The development was made possible by the City’s effort to work with our state delegation to obtain legislation that created state tax rebate worth $24.3 million.

Camino Real (lf) Paso del Norte ca 1970 (rt)
Camino Real (lf) Paso del Norte ca 1970 (rt)

The building, which sits at 101 S. El Paso Street will now undergo a renovation that will transform the space into a 4-star convention center hotel that will provide 300 guestrooms, a full service restaurant, function/meeting space, spa, fitness center, swimming pool, business center, airport shuttle, and upscale interior finishes.

The $70 million private investment from Meyers Group Acquisitions, LLC will qualify the property owners for an incentive package of more than $32 million:

  • State incentive of $24,364,727
  • $3,045,590.88 per year for a period up to 8 years
  • City to provide a maximum of $6,000,000 in redevelopment grants
  • Payments to occur at 50%, 75% and 100% construction completion
  • 100% Rebate or abatement of incremental Real/Personal Property
  • Incentive period limited to 8 years
  • Not to exceed $2,240,322.00
  • City to waive all building and development permit/inspection fees

Check out the previous stories below:

Meyers Group Closes on Purchase for Historic Camino Real Hotel; Renovations to take 18 Months, Will Reopen as Hotel Paso del Norte

Gallery+Story: Renderings for Restored Hotel Paso del Norte Revealed

City Council Discuss Strategic Plan Accomplishments, Approve Additions to Enhance Plan

On Thursday, the Mayor and City Council gathered for a strategic planning session where they reviewed the accomplishments of the 2015 Strategic Plan and approved the addition of the “20 in 2020” visionary initiatives.

City Council also made adjustments to the strategic plan by incorporating the Resiliency Plan.

The Resiliency Plan is the result of a three-year effort in which the City of El Paso partnered with the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities Network to identify how El Paso can be better prepared to survive, adapt, and thrive no matter the chronic shocks or stresses.

Under strategy 1.6 City Council voted to amend a resiliency strategy to include the creative economy.

Other adjustments were also made to specific strategies of the Strategic Plan which include:

2.4 Improve motorist safety and enhance traffic management plan

5.6 Strengthen messaging opportunities through media outlets and proactive community outreach

The strategic planning session also allowed City Council to list additional items for staff to review.  These items will be brought back at a later date for City Council action.

These additions include:

  • Expand holiday attractions at Shawver Park and other areas of the city
  • Enhance bike plan connections with neighborhoods, consider using utility easements, trails and existing levees (i.e., Paisano Drive from Doniphan to Downtown)
  • Creation of a residential rehab incentive policy
  • Mixed-use development along construction projects (supporting walkable neighborhoods)
  • Engage retailers like Trader Joes and REI that attract millennials and “expats”
  • Mission Trail development
  • Funding update on Sun City Lights entryways and the master plan
  • Expand EP Streetcar and BRIO operational hours; augment fees for first six months of streetcar operations
  • Creation of International Relations/Affairs Department (or position)
  • Zaragoza International Bridge (Ysleta Port of Entry) entryway

o   to include allocation of revenues for capital improvements

  • Contracted employees; livable wages review

Full report: 20in2020

Busy Tuesday as City Council Approves Several Key Contracts, Parking Changes for San Jacinto Plaza

From tax incentives for a new downtown hotel, to park construction and parking, members of the El Paso City Council have a very busy Tuesday.

First, City Council members approved a Chapter 380 Economic Incentive Agreement with Hotel Sancho Panza LLC for the development of a downtown Marriott Courtyard Urban hotel.

The multi-million dollar development will add more than 140 hotel rooms near the El Paso Convention Center, strengthening El Paso’s competitiveness as a convention destination.

Per the agreement, Hotel Sancho Panza LLC is expected to invest a minimum of $8 million in developing the 10-story hotel. The developer will receive a 100% real and personal property tax rebate not to exceed $844,089.

Also, the City will waive all building and development permit/inspection fees related to the project.

In addition to the City’s incentives, the terms of the Chapter 380 Economic Incentive Agreement will allow Hotel Sancho Panza LLC to apply for the State of Texas Convention Center Hotel Occupancy Tax Rebate Program. The estimated incentives under this program are $4,386,331.

Council also took new action on the long-awaited Eastside Sports Complex.

Members approved a design-build contract amendment establishing the Guaranteed Maximum Price of approximately $8.6 million for the development of the first phase of an 80-acre facility known as the Eastside Sports Complex.

The first phase of development of the complex located in far east El Paso near the intersection of Montwood and John Hayes will focus on the development 42.2 acres of land, which will include the following services and amenities:

  • 7 sodded irrigated competition flat fields, and 1 championship style field
  • Shaded seating to accommodate 500 spectators
  • Fencing to maintain control access
  • A new hike and bike trail will be constructed along the perimeter of the park

The complex will also include new ADA compliant restrooms, parking, and sidewalks, as well as a sheltered area with picnic tables and benches, which will allow food trucks to serve visitors and spectators during competitions or events.  As part of the project a new storage and maintenance facility will also be constructed in order to allow for the park’s upkeep.

Earlier this year, Council awarded a “Design Build” contract for the Eastside Sports Complex to Jordan Foster Construction and MNK Architects.  Design Build, groups the design and construction companies for the project into one contract, which allows the City to better coordinate the entire project from start to finish.

With Tuesday’s action, the design build team will soon be able to begin the construction of the first phase of the complex, which will occur once all the contractual documents are finalized.  The remaining phase of the complex will be developed at a future date if funding becomes available.

During the same session, council awarded a contract valued at approximately $250,000 for program management services of the Northgate Transfer Center to ECM International Inc. of El Paso.

ECM International will work with the City’s Capital Improvement Department and Sun Metro to provide program management services to facilitate the construction of the $10.6 million transfer center and its parking garage, primarily funded by a TIGER grant from the Department of Transportation.

Services will include enforcement of construction schedules, project scope, project budget and quality of work.

The Northgate Transfer Center to be housed on a portion of a 30-acre site located near Dyer Street and Diana Drive is the City of El Paso’s component of a unique transit-oriented development.

The transfer center will anchor a public-private development known as Metro 31, which is a mixed-use development that will integrate the new transfer center and its Dyer Brio rapid transit corridor station with residential, retail and commercial office spaces. The city broke ground on the transfer center and parking garage in August.

The transfer center is being constructed by Dantex Construction, Inc. of El Paso and was designed by EXIGO of El Paso assisted by RNL of Denver, Colorado.

The project was designed as a LEED silver project, and includes the following passenger amenities:  a fully developed bus circulation area, including berths for the Brio, regional, and local buses to facilitate smooth transitions between bus routes; bus transfer areas with canopies; a park and ride garage which includes 17,000 square feet of retail space; enclosed waiting, information and ticketing areas; electronic on-street message boards; bike racks; Wi-Fi; and a landscaped public plaza.

Also in Northeast El Paso,  Council awarded an $182,000 contract for the construction of Futureland Park in Northeast to the Martinez Brothers Contractors of El Paso.

The half-acre park will be located on O’Donnell Street on a parcel of land just north of the intersection of O’Donnell and Dyer Street. The land was donated to the City of El Paso by Jobe Materials Construction and the project should be completed in Spring 2017.

The park’s total budget is $450,000 and covers expenses related to the development of the project including construction, design, and play equipment.

Amenities for the park will include a playground with lighted canopy structure, half-basketball court, landscape, picnic tables with lighted shade canopy structure, and bicycle racks.

In other park-related decisions, Council ratified an amendment to Title 12 of the City Code, which prohibits parking around San Jacinto Plaza. The change will allow the Streets and Maintenance Department to mark the no parking zone around the plaza by painting the curb instead using poles and signs to restrict parking.

The amendment approved by council also allows for the language restricting parking around the plaza to be modified from “no stopping or standing – tow-away zone” to “parking prohibited at all times.”

The changes were necessary to deter vehicles from parking in the travel lanes adjacent the plaza, which is traffic safety hazard. Parking in the travel lanes adjacent to the plaza has also contributed to landscaping damage because people step on the vegetation when they exit the vehicles.

“Parking restrictions around San Jacinto Plaza are not new. What we are doing is amending the ordinance to allow us to mark the curb with the parking restrictions so that we can minimize sign clutter at the newly renovated plaza,” Streets and Maintenance Department Director Ted Marquez said. “Sufficient parking exists and will remain by San Jacinto. They include metered parking spaces across the street from the park, as well as, nearby garages and parking lots.”

The curb surrounding San Jacinto Plaza will be painted yellow to remind motorists that parking is not allowed adjacent to the park.

Council Approves Construction Method for Lionel Forti, Chelsea Aquatics Facilities; Awards Construction Contract for Westside Natatorium

On Tuesday, El Paso City Council took the first step towards the development of the Lionel Forti and Chelsea Aquatic Centers by authorizing the use of the “Design Build” delivery method for these quality of life projects.

This delivery method groups the design firm and construction contractor into one contract, which allows the City to better coordinate the entire project from start to finish, and reduce the amount of risk associated with designing and constructing these facilities.

The design-build method incorporates the use of a “Guaranteed Maximum Price,” which is an agreement between the City and the design build team which declares that the design and construction of a project will not cost the City above an agreed upon amount, unless changes are made to design or new services are requested and incorporated into the construction of the project.

The Chelsea and Lionel Forti Aquatic Facilities each have an approximate budget of $4 million for their design and construction. The Chelsea budget also covers land acquisition.

The Chelsea Aquatic Center will be located at 900 Radford Street, while the Lionel Forti facility will be located 1225 Giles Road. Both facilities will be housed in a 5,000 to 6,000 square foot facility that will include:

  • Zero depth entry water play area and water spray ground
  • Water slides
  • Lap pool with climbing wall
  • Toddler splash area
  • Cabanas that can be reserved
  • Outdoor grill and concessions
  • Bathhouse
  • ADA compliant parking areas,

Both aquatic facilities are funded by the 2012 Quality of Life Bonds, and are part of the City of El Paso’s commitment to enhancing the quality of life for business, residents and visitors through the creation of recreational, cultural and educational environments.

To view the City’s 2015 Aquatics Plan, Click HERE

Also during Tuesday’s session, City Council approved a $12.4 million construction contract for the Westside Pool – Natatorium featuring the City of El Paso’s first Olympic-size swimming pool.

“This is great news for our community. It’s very exciting to be part of a visionary organization committed to expanding recreational opportunities in this region. El Paso deserves top-notch facilities and this quality of life aquatics project delivers on our commitment to expand recreational programming for our youth and all our citizens,” Monica Lombraña, interim Director of the City’s Capital Improvement Department, said.

The project will be constructed at 650 Wallenberg Drive by Arrow Building Corp. Its Olympic-size pool will be housed inside a 35,980-square foot facility and includes the following amenities:

  • One (1) movable pool bulkhead (a movable race starting platform, allowing for a 50-meter pool to be converted to a 25-meter pool for youth competitions)
  • Eight (8) long lanes (50 meter) and 24 short lanes (25 meter)
  • Scoreboards
  • Wi-Fi
  • Seating for approximately 780 spectators
  • Additional occupancy for up to 224 competitors through the use of moveable bleachers
  • A total of 250 parking spaces
  • Water efficiency plumbing
  • Designed to meet USA Swimming standards and requirements

The project will be constructed near the existing Leo Cancellare Pool. City of El Paso’s Capital Improvement Department along with the Department of Parks and Recreation will host a preconstruction community meeting at 5:30 p.m. on August 31, 2016 at the Galatzan Recreation Center, 650 Wallenberg, to present to the public with the construction schedule, and the plans for the continuity of operations of the Leo Cancellare Pool during construction.

El Paso City Council Adopts Resolution to Refinance Ballpark Bonds

On Monday City Council, hoping to take advantage of low interest rates, adopted a resolution to refinance bonds issued to pay for Southwest University Park.

“Since taking office this has been an issue of importance to me. We are refinancing to take advantage of the lower interest rates. This is a financially prudent thing to do to streamline our debt payments by addressing the upcoming balloon payment of $17 million,” Mayor Oscar Leeser said.

The resolution will allow for the issuance of up to $20 million in City of El Paso Downtown Development Corporation Special Revenue Refunding Bonds. Refinancing the bonds will restructure the debt service payment schedule to mitigate the effect of a balloon payment in 2023 of nearly $17 million.

The action should also generate up to $6.5 million in savings over the life of the debt, compared to the planned restructuring that was modeled in 2013.

The revenue bonds were originally sold in August 2013 and were to be paid over 30 years at cost of approximately $137 million, including a $17 million balloon payment in 2023. The bonds were issued based on debt service model that incorporated refinancing them at 5.5 percent before 2023 to avoid the balloon payment.

By refinancing the bonds at a lower interest rate, the City will avoid the larger-than-usual payment in 2023 and should pay off the bonds off by 2043 at a cost of approximately $147 million, nearly $6.5 million less than the $153 million projected in the 2013 debt service model.

UPDATE: City releases Baseball Stadium financing documents

City Council today voted to waive their attorney-client privilege and share with the city manager and the general public a report related to the sale of bonds for the ballpark. Click HERE to view the entire report.

With a separate vote, Council also approved releasing documents related to the city soliciting requests for qualifications for a financial adviser.

In a news release, the city said the release of the release of the report would be , “Placing a strong emphasis on accountability, transparency and sound fiscal responsibility…”

The privileged documents released are a report by Norton Rose Fulbright on the baseball stadium financing. The other documents relate to the solicitation for requests for qualifications for a financial adviser. A written report on the solicitation for requests for qualifications for a financial adviser will be provided to council on Wednesday, December 2.

Bonds financing the ballpark were sold in August 2013. The long-term debt was based on an interest rate that was higher than originally estimated resulting in the City borrowing about $20 million more than originally anticipated for the stadium.

Snapshot

  • November 2012: Voters approve funding sources for ballpark.
  • May 2013: Council approves issuing bonds to finance ballpark.
  • August 2013: Ballpark bonds sold, council formally notified that long-term debt for ballpark would cost millions of dollars more to pay off than originally anticipated.
  • May 2014: Tommy Gonzalez appointed city manager.
  • June/July 2014: Council members share concerns with Gonzalez about the city’s finances, including the $7.5 million deficit, the $9 million reduction to the fund balance, and the ballpark financing costing millions of dollars more than originally anticipated.
  • August 2014: Pursuant to council concerns, City Manager authorizes solicitation for requests for qualifications for a financial adviser.
  • April 2015: City issues request for qualifications for a financial adviser.
  • September 2015: City Manager halts the solicitation for requests for qualifications for a financial adviser upon receiving a verbal report from legal on ballpark financing.
  • November 2015: City Attorney sends city manager an email supporting the report findings.

El Paso City Council meetings to be held every 2 weeks starting 2016

Beginning January 12, 2016 El Paso City Council meetings will be held every two weeks at 8 a.m. on Tuesdays. In the November 3, 2015 Charter Election, voters approved a modification to the City’s Municipal

Charter to have City Council meetings every two weeks instead of the usual weekly meeting. Council meetings will continue to be held at 8 a.m. on Tuesdays. This will allow staff more time to address issues and work on operational needs of their respective departments.

In addition, the Monday before each council meeting, City Council will have “work sessions” to review the agenda and discuss issues prior to the regular Council Meeting on Tuesday. The first work session is scheduled for January 11, 2016. The following is a list of City Council dates to be held in 2016.

2016 CITY COUNCIL MEETING DATES

January 12, 2016

January 26, 2016

February 9, 2016

February 23, 2016

March 8, 2016

March 22, 2016

April 5, 2016

April 19, 2016

May 3, 2016

May 17, 2016

May 31, 2016

June 14, 2016

June 28, 2016

July 12, 2016

July 26, 2016

August 9, 2016

August 23, 2016

September 6, 2016

September 20, 2016

October 4, 2016

October 18, 2016

November 1, 2016

November 15, 2016

November 29, 2016

December 13, 2016

December 27, 2016

City set to save $570k after review of phone, internet services

The City of El Paso is set to save $570,000 from an employee-led Lean Six Sigma project related to processes for initiating and terminating phone and Internet services for city staff.

“The Lean Six Sigma process gave our team access to tools and resources which allowed us to bring about meaningful change,” said Roman Sanchez, Business Systems Analyst for the Department of Information Technology Services. “This was a unique opportunity to be placed in a leadership position and, ultimately, to streamline our operations and save money for the taxpayers.”

Sanchez led the team of employees whose original goal was to reduce costs by approximately $98,000 annually. In Fiscal Year 2015, the group’s findings and recommendations are set to save the city $114,000; In FY 2016, the first full-year under their process improvements, the city is expected to save $456,000.

“Lean Six Sigma is a strong management and leadership tool that empowers our employees to do amazing things for our city and our citizens,” said City Manager Tommy Gonzalez.

This represents a reversal of a trend dating back several years. The cost of telephone and internet services for the city has grown by a yearly average of $205,000 since 2012.

Sanchez presented his team’s findings to El Paso City Council today. The presentation included the following process improvements to standardize and streamline the process for initiating and terminating services for city employees:

  • Develop a single 11-step process to replace an ad-hoc process which included nearly 40 steps;
  • Establish an electronic reconciliation process to review, analyze, and validate vendor costs and credits;
  • Develop reporting mechanisms to assist departments in managing costs and utilization; and
  • Completing an inventory of existing services an immediately disconnect vacant lines.

This Lean Six Sigma Project is part of the City of El Paso’s commitment to leveraging and expanding the use of current and new technology to reduce inefficiencies and improve communications.

Author: City of El Paso

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