EL PASO, Texas -- El Paso’s Historical Landmark Commission voted unanimously Monday to support the inclusion of hundreds of downtown properties into the National Register of Historic Places and designate the area a historic district.
The 6-0 decision by the commission recommends roughly 1,000 properties for the historic district -- including 13 locations in the Duranguito neighborhood. Those Duranguito properties sit in an area where the city plans on building the long-awaited Multipurpose Performing Arts and Entertainment Center - also known as the arena project.
Late last year, then-Mayor Dee Margo sent a letter to the Texas Historical Commission saying that the city opposed the inclusion of those Duaranguito sites as part of the National Register nomination.
According to Margo, those 13 properties, which are already under the ownership of the city itself, are damaged and are not of historic value.
The Downtown Management District backed the city's position that those sites should be excluded.
“A recognition to those properties at this point just defies logic," said Downtown Management District Executive Director Joe Gudenrath. "There is no reason to do this according to where we are at right now.”
However, there was also push back to the city's position. El Paso County Commissioner David Stout and others said only five of those buildings have actually been considerably damaged and that they represented a major historic asset to the area.
“Now more than ever in this new normal, we are going to be seeing this when it comes to attracting tourism," said Stout. "I think heritage tourism is really going to play a huge role and so putting ourselves on the map with this district as well at the Segundo Barrio district is very important."
The Historical Landmark Commission's recommendation for the proposed district now goes to a state review board, which will ultimately decide whether to advise approval to the National Parks Service.