Photo courtesy El Paso History Alliance
Saturday morning, the State Board of Review of the Texas Historical Commission voted unanimously to support the establishment of the Segundo Barrio National Register Historic District in the heart of El Paso.
During the meeting there were no opponents who spoke before the board, while speaking in support of the district were El Paso County Commissioner David Stout of Precinct 2, historian Cynthia Renteria, Fr. Raphael Garcia of Sacred Heart Church, Sito Negron and Max Grossman.
The next step after the vote will be to forward the nomination to the National Park Service in Washington D.C. for final approval. Preservation officials add that, if all goes well, the district will be created before the end of this year.
The plan to establish a Downtown National Register Historic District and a Segundo Barrio National Register Historic District was unanimously approved by the El Paso County Commissioners Court on February 8, 2016.
In 2017, the County conducted an architectural survey of downtown El Paso and the adjacent barrios as a necessary step.
Officials add that hundreds of buildings within the district will soon become eligible for state and federal tax credits for restoration and rehabilitation.
According to the El Paso History Alliance, the federal and state tax credits that could pay for up to 45% of the cost of restoration. There will be no added regulatory burden for property owners who do not wish to use the credits. They add that, currently, there is only one building in the entire barrio on the National Register of Historic Places
The tax credits will be critically important for the restoration of Sacred Heart Church, an ambitious project that is in the fundraising stage.
The historic district was one of twelve nominations taken up by the board, ranging from a railroad trestle in Austin to buildings in Houston and San Antonio, to entire portions of downtown Palestine and Palmville.