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City council to decide future of the proposed downtown multi-purpose center

EL PASO, Texas -- City council members will decide whether to continue with the planning of a proposed multi-purpose arena in downtown El Paso, or shift the funds allocated for the project to other areas in the city during a city council meeting on Tuesday.

At that meeting, the council will review the results of a feasibility study that was conducted on the proposed event center and its proposed location in a historical neighborhood in the southern part of downtown.

KVIA spoke with the consulting firms that conducted the study.

Currently the funds that are allocated are not sufficient for the original plan for an "arena" that was approved by voters in the 2012 Quality of Life bond.

The consulting firms told KVIA that the funds are simply not there for a large or mid-size arena in downtown, but there is a market demand and enough funds for a hybrid-style venue. The presentation put together by the firms, Gensler and Legends Global, shows a hybrid-venue that has both outdoor and indoor seating for about 8,000 people.

The consultants also said the hybrid-venue would still incorporate and rehabilitate existing, historical structures in the area. Opponents of the multi-purpose center want to see the existing structures remain in place.

Seven structures inside the arena-footprint, which is bordered to the north by Overland Ave., to the south by Paisano St., to the east by Leon St., and to the west by Santa Fe St., are independently eligible for historic designation.

“Not only is the feasibility study delivering the options that meet market demand, but also the available funds," Daniela Quesada, chief architect for the city of El Paso, said, "These are also the options that offer the opportunity to save the significant buildings within the site.”

“The city of El Paso and the community can show the rest of the world how a community and a city entity come together on an actionable project to promote healing. To move forward. One step in the past, one step in the future. I think it’s a great opportunity for that," Brian Nicodemus, a principal leader for Gensler, said.

Representatives Joe Molinar, District 4, and Alexsandra Annello, District 2, have put an item on the city council agenda to decide whether the city should move away from the MPC and use the funds elsewhere.

Three new city council members will participate in their first city council meeting on Tuesday. Brian Kennedy, Chris Canales, and Art Fierro all won their runoff elections in December.

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Dylan McKim


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