EL PASO, Texas -- The El Paso City Council Tuesday unanimously agreed to sell a prime piece of real estate in northwest El Paso in a deal described as "smart," "incredible" and "huge" but stopped short of revealing what the big deal is.
The land is off Artcraft Boulevard and Interstate 10, in one of the fastest growing parts of El Paso. It was to be the site of a Great Wolf Lodge resort but the company announced last year it was pulling out of the plan due to the pandemic.
The new buyer, VTRE Development LLC, or Van Trust Real Estate, provides consulting services to build office, industrial, multifamily, retail, institutional, governmental, hospitality, and recreational projects. It is currently working on "El Paso Logistics Park (Phase I)", a four-building, 514,000-square-foot industrial project in east El Paso off Paseo del Este Boulevard, according to its website.
Dr. Rick Bonart, a retired veterinarian and past member of the Public Service Board, was the only member of the public to speak on the issue and he opposed it.
"You ought to walk from this deal, it's not a good deal for El Paso," he said.
Bonart's main complaints were that the property should've been offered in a public auction and that, due to the defunct resort agreement, it was tied to a Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone, or TIRZ. That's when a city designates an area for development and reinvests the incremental property value within the zone's boundaries instead of allowing the property taxes to flow into the general fund.
"Why continue to lose precious dollars stimulating an area that doesn't need stimulation?" asked Bonart.
Mayor Oscar Leeser assured him, "I can tell you it is a very good deal for the community. When you see the announcement, you will see the economic development team and the elected officials did have the back of the taxpayers," adding the city is not offering any incentives to the company.
Senior Deputy City Manager Cary Westin said staff will be recommending council approve taking that parcel out of the TIRZ. The company has six months to inspect the property and close the sale at which point the city would make the deal public.
The superlatives kept coming.
"This is a huge impact for that area," said Eddie Garcia, assistant director for the city's Economic Development Department. "We expect to see a huge investment, a significant amount of employees that will come to that area, a huge economic impact."
The mayor said without the sale of the property, "the company wouldn't come here."
The city will not be paying any of the closing costs, which will save the city about $600,000, and the company will also pay for transit improvements for the intersection.
ABC-7 will update you as we get information on the plans for this area.