Due to the difficult economy, the County of El Paso has agreed to extend the deadline for completion of a new shopping center at the old Farah building in East El Paso.
The County, like the city, is offering millions in property and sales tax abatements for the project. The vote by Commissioner’s Court was 3-2 Monday, in favor of the extension, with County Judge Anthony Cobos and Commissioner Dan Haggerty voting against it.
The bad news is the shopping center will take longer to complete. But the good news is the blighted-building could be removed soon than expected.
“People passing off of I-10 have to see that,” said Jaime Krop, manager of the Tony Lama Boot Factory outlet directly across the street from the old Farah building. “It’s sort of an eyesore.”
County Commissioners know that all too well. But that didn’t stop them from making a three-year extension to an agreement for $3.9 million in tax abatements to property owner and El Paso millionaire Paul Foster. The shopping center must now be completed by 2015, instead of 2012.
“Quicker we get it down the better,” Krop said. “It’ll make el paso look a lot more better … “
El Pasoans may have to wait a little longer for “The Fountains” to flow at the new shopping center, but the good news is, the new agreement states that the demolition of the fFrah building must begin by August of this year, instead of having to wait until February of next year.
“Our full intention is to start demolition on the building as soon as possible,” said Wes Miller, who works for Foster.
“Part of what has been an obstacle to a lot of developers has been the demolition because it’s so costly,” said County Commissioner Veronica Escobar, who voted for the extension. “Even if nothing else works, they’re now prepared to demolish that property.”
While Escobar said the extension was warranted, others were very much against it, even though demolition will now come sooner.
“The county is in a severe budget crisis and a lot of our budget comes from sales taxes,” County Judge Anthony Cobos said. “This 381 agreement is going to defer a lot of those future sales tax earnings.”
And Commissioner Dan Haggerty said that means you could pay more.
“If I’m not charging him for taxes he should rightfully pay,” Haggerty said, “then I’m going to charge you.”
This is all contingent on City Council approving a similar extension, for another $7.8 million in abatements, on June 29th. But if that happens, as expected, it will clear the way for demoltion of the property to begin in August and completion of the shopping center in 2015.