EL PASO, Texas -- This week marked the 5th anniversary of the city of El Paso announcing it would build a multipurpose center in the area known as "Duranguito."
The project's footprint is south of the Convention Center near downtown. Multiple court battles have tied up the project as several historians say this is El Paso's first neighborhood and its buildings should be saved. The city says history can be incorporated into a modern facility for economic development.
As the vacant Duranguito area sits boarded up, businessman Enrique Guajardo prays the legal gridlock ends soon. He is the owner of the newly restored Pancho Villa Stash House, a historic property at 331 1/2 Leon St. used by the famed Mexican revolutionary. It is one block away from Duranguito.
"It's been five years of struggling with no future," lamented Guajardo.
On Wednesday night, the building came to life with a game of El Paso Loteria. The fundraiser was part of the Tom Lea Institute's month-long celebration of the artist. Dozens of guests sat inside the restored revolutionary's refuge with bingo-like cards, matching images of iconic people and places in El Paso as the announcer called them.
Guajardo, who has plans to convert this venue into a restaurant-museum, can't wait for the stalemate to be over.
"We have an abandoned downtown and it's been abandoned for years and when the city comes, and they want to do something, you know, we have the struggles between whether they want to save it or not… whatever they do it's important. We need economic growth in our downtown. We need life again."
The legal case is pending in an El Paso appeals court.