After previously indicating that the neighborhood was no longer among the candidates for a new arena, El Paso is now re-including Duranguito as an option.
The Duranguito neighborhood was where El Paso previously proposed building a new arena. Under the site concept, it looked as though homes and businesses in the area could make way for the arena, and that–combined with concerns for the potential use of eminent domain, and possibility of tearing down historic buildings–prompted significant public backlash. In December, El Paso officials indicated that the arena site would move, with a project connected to the Judson F. Williams Convention Center becoming a serious possibility.
However, that proposal generated swift backlash in some corners of the business community because of numerous concerns, including the potential to prevent events at the convention center from taking place. Now El Paso, which wants to keep the convention center operational while the arena is built, is looking to complete the project within 1,000 feet of the convention center, but did not omit Duranguito as a possibility. More from the El Paso Times:
“I’m baffled at the city retracting themselves,” said Union Plaza resident and business owner Michael Patino. “It just makes them look bad for the fact that they come to one decision and come back and change the whole topic all over again.”
Patino said the community’s concerns have fallen upon deaf ears at the City Council.
“I knew it was not over due to the fact that we’ve been on an emotional roller coaster — yes, no, yes, no, and again today we are in the same boat that we started in,” he said.
Yolanda Chavez Leyva, a community advocate and University of Texas at El Paso professor who had been working with Duranguito residents who feared losing their homes, said she was not surprised the council went back on its previous decision to spare the neighborhood.
“We know there has been a lot of pressure from the developers and the millionaires in the past few weeks since the council made their decision not to put it on the table,” Leyva said.
As reported by the Times, the city is attempting to find an arena site that will not lead to the demolition of the Abraham Chavez Theatre, which is adjacent to the convention center. The arena was originally approved by voters in a 2012 quality of life bond referendum, but discussions about the potential site have been more intense since last fall.
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