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Max to the Max: The story behind the historian fighting to save El Paso neighborhood

He’s a surfer, backpacker and historic preservationist.

To his opponent’s, however, Max Grossman is single-handedly standing in the way of thousands of voters who authorized the City of El Paso to build a multi-purpose arena and it’s costing taxpayers hundreds of thousand dollars in legal fees.

Everyone agrees Grossman has been relentless in his efforts to preserve the area known as Duranguito in downtown where the City wants to build the project, but there’s a lot more to the historian.

He speaks Italian and plays both the acoustic and electric guitar. Grossman showed ABC-7 his 1969 Gibson electric guitar he says is “as beautiful like an old building”.

Grossman earned a Ph.D. from Columbia University and taught at Stanford before accepting a position as Assistant Professor of Art History at UTEP.

Since then, he’s helped develop strategies for historic preservation and has a vision to showcase El Paso. “It’s who we are. It’s our soul. Its our core. It’s our history,” he says, “It’s our culture that goes back centuries and we should not be sacrificing that for bloated bond projects that require demolition of entire city blocks.”

Grossman’s vision includes adding 968 buildings to the National Historic Register and obtain available tax credits to renovate and transform downtown.

A self-described Libertarian, Grossman recently took on the city on taxes. “We have the second highest homestead tax rate among the 50 fastest growing cities in America, the 4th highest commercial property tax, the number one industrial property tax in America,” said Grossman, “We have a tax supported debt of $2 billion, larger than Austin. This is the path our city leaders have put us on, a path that leads to debt and insolvency and a bond rating downgrade.”

Grossman is confident about his plan to stop the City from demolishing buildings in Duranguito, even though they are not protected by historic designation.

He also acknowledges the City is doubling down and has its own plan in the works.

When asked how he felt about being described as arrogant and narrow minded, Grossman answered, “Maybe. I would just say that I am determined, and steadfast and consistent.”

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