EL PASO, Texas -- The Texas Historical Commission has forwarded a nomination to the National Park Service for a downtown El Paso historic district, requesting that the federal agency determine if it is eligible for listing given opposition from some building owners.
"This is an extraordinarily important historic district, and we appreciate your consideration," wrote Texas State Historic Preservation Officer Mark Wolfe in a letter this month to the NPS, which oversees the National Register of Historic Places.
The proposed historic district, which would include the contentious Duranguito neighborhood, has been spearheaded by El Paso County. It has drawn the written opposition of over a hundred downtown property owners, which has been provided to the park service alongside the application to create the district.
The area sought to be included on the national historic register encompasses El Paso’s Central Business District and adjacent Duranguito, consisting of 143 acres and 174 buildings.
Duranguito has been the subject of ongoing controversy, debate and lawsuits for years over the City of El Paso's plans to build an arena there. Former Mayor Dee Margo had lobbied to keep Duranguito out of the proposed historic district, while current Mayor Oscar Leeser has signaled the arena is not a priority item on his agenda.
Mark Osborn of the Kemp Smith law firm, who represents numerous downtown property owners on a pro-bono basis, has said their opposition isn't about Duranguito - but rather they are worried that being part of an historic district would subject them to added regulations when it comes to any renovation work on their buildings.
Below is the state's letter to the federal government submitting the proposed historic district for a determination.