Almost two years after the groundbreaking of the WestStar Tower in Downtown El Paso, Hunt and WestStar employees, elected officials, and WestStar Tower owners and tenants, officially “topped off” the building by signing the final beam of steel that was then hoisted into place at the highest point of the structure.
While this event was not typical, in light of COVID-19 concerns and restrictions, the topping off is a ceremonial builder’s rite which traces its roots to ancient Scandinavia.
Though the exact application varies from project to project, it has come to mark significant milestones in construction projects around the world.
“This is an exciting day for all of us as we celebrate this milestone,” said Josh Hunt, Executive Vice President and Member of the Board of Directors for Hunt Companies, Inc. “This project is part of a whole revitalization of downtown El Paso and it’s great to see the progress that continues to be made, even while we live and work through some difficult times.”
WestStar Tower at Hunt Plaza, which encompasses the entire city block bordered by Mesa Street, Missouri Avenue, Oregon Street and Wyoming Avenue, is a multi-tenant, multi-level LEED certified “Green Building.”
The overall project will include 264,000 rentable square feet of true Class “AA” space, 12,000 square feet of ground level office and retail space, and 850 parking spaces in an integrated garage. Upon its completion in early 2021, it will be the tallest building in El Paso at 313 feet and 6 inches high.
“This day is significant for all of El Paso as we continue the renaissance of downtown,” said Rick Francis, Chairman and CEO, WestStar Bank. “This state-of-the-art commercial building will not only change the landscape of El Paso, but also set before us a path to the future for residents, visitors and businesses in the Borderplex region.”
WestStar Tower will convey world-class architecture, state-of-the-art office space and beautiful views to commercial tenants in the heart of the city.
On the ground level, the outdoor Hunt Plaza will feature a beautifully landscaped green space with outdoor seating and dining in a park-like atmosphere, which will also serve as a venue for community events.
The building will offer proximity to area amenities such as Southwest University Park, the Museum District, San Jacinto Plaza, and the new El Paso Streetcar system.
Officials say the WestStar Tower, which rises to the height of 313 feet, culminates in a unique architectural feature. The shape and color of the “Crest”, were inspired by the natural beauty of the Franklin Mountains and the Southwest desert landscape.
“The profile of this feature unifies the entire building composition from the lobby sandstone to the very top of the building, providing a memorable addition to the tallest building in the El Paso skyline,” officials added.
The office building will serve as the corporate headquarters for Hunt, occupying three floors of the building with approximately 175 employees. The Hunt Family Foundation will also be located in the building. It will also serve as the corporate headquarters for WestStar, which will occupy four floors and with a full service branch on the ground floor.
WestStar and its affiliates will have approximately 229 employees working in the new location.
Officials add that pre-leasing is well underway, with Sonny Brown & Associates leading the leasing and sales effort for commercial and retail users.
The WestStar Tower construction camera has been and will continue to track progress and provide a time-lapse video. Project partners include Duda|Paine (architect), Gensler (design), OJB (landscape architect) and Moss (general contractor).
The event took place over a several hour period in order to abide by social distancing guidelines.