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Lawmakers, organizations voice arena opposition ahead of demolition

Elected officials and local organizations are speaking out ahead of possible demolitions in the Duranguito neighborhood.

Notices to proceed with demolition for eight private properties in the arena footprint. Those who gathered Thursday said they’re opposed to knocking down El Paso history. Several different organizations, residents and elected officials including Senator Jose Rodriguez, County Commissioner David Stout and City Representative Alexsandra Annello spoke to a small crowd this afternoon.

They gathered at the corner of Chihuahua and Overland, near several buildings that were issued notices of demolition. They spoke about a recent full page ad promoting a multipurpose arena including sports, which is part of a campaign sponsored by the MountainStar Sports Group. They discussed what they call a lack of transparency from city officials.

“It’s not just about in my view, the way we’re addressing this issue, with preserving our historic neighborhoods especially a place like Duranguito, which is the original town site of El Paso and has many historic buildings. It’s also the way our city government deals with its citizens. the way it engages or not engage in transparency,” Sen. Rodriguez said.

El Paso historian Max Grossman is seeking to get the El Paso District Court to stop the demolition of those buildings. The group plans to continue voicing out their opposition until Monday, when that hearing is scheduled.

According to the City of El Paso, demolition of property within the Downtown Plan Area requires that:

If the property to be demolished is located within a historic district or is a landmark, approval for demolition from the historic landmark commission is required prior to the issuance of a demolition permit and all other application requirements of Shall be followed. If the property to be demolished is within the downtown plan area, the applicant will be required prior to demolition to: A. Provide for as-built drawings or photo-documentation. B. Provide proof of notices sent: if the proposed building to be demolished is three stories or less, the applicant shall provide copies of certified letters to all adjacent property owners and businesses notifying them of the proposed demolition and approximate schedule of events. If the proposed demolition is for a commercial or industrial structure or a residential structure four stories or more, all property owners and business within 300 feet shall be notified. If the proposed building to be demolished shares a common wall with another building(s) the applicant shall submit a sealed structural engineer’s report that verifies that the proposed demolition will not adversely impact adjoining structures.

According to the city, just because the permits were issued does not mean demolition will start on Tuesday.

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