Maybe you’ve been wondering what the taxpayers could do for the Hunts and WestStar Bank to thank them for all they’ve done for the city. You know. The Nursing School. The bird stage at the zoo. Uhh. I know there’s some other things.
I know! Let’s buy them an office tower!
El Paso-based Hunt Companies and WestStar Bank have teamed up to build a 14-story, $70 million office tower in Downtown El Paso.
On Tuesday, City Council approved an incentives package worth up to $15.2 million for the project. The office building will be called the WestStar Tower.
. . .
Jessica Herrera, director of the city Economic and International Development Department, said the project would boost Downtown redevelopment efforts.
Do you think that Ms. Herrera knows that the city’s median household income fell last year? That since 2012, the city’s population has only grown by 7,472 people, or 1.1 percent? That the real value of homes in the El Paso Independent School District fell by three percent last year?
Maybe we should all chip in and get Ms. Herrera a subscription to El Chuqueño.
“Along with the Marriott Courtyard, it’s one of the first high-rise buildings built in some time. And it adds to the overall Downtown employee base.” Herrera said. “You’re creating a catalyst to Downtown that can be easily seen from the freeway.”
What does that mean? “Along with the Marriott Courtyard, it’s one of the first high-rise buildings built in some time.” ???
And you can see it from the freeway! As if the eggbeaters weren’t enough!
WestStar bank plans to move its headquarters to the new tower, selling its current headquarters at 500 N. Mesa, [chairman and CEO of WestStar Bank Rick] Francis said. It would occupy three floors of the tower, have a commercial bank operation on the ground floor and employ 180 people at the new location.
Hunt Companies would also move in, said Josh Hunt, the company’s executive vice president. It would occupy three floors of the tower, bringing 175 employees to Downtown.
Hunt Companies has built high rises, research buildings and apartment towers across the country. The El Paso-based company and its affiliates employ more than 6,000 people and touch more than $30 billion in assets.
Well, jeez, if Hunt Companies and its affiliates “touch more than $30 billion in assets,” do you think $15.2 million in incentives is enough for a gift? They probably find that much in change lying under their sofa cushions. If only there were some way we, the taxpayers, could do more.
City Council has approved giving an El Paso joint venture up to $15.3 million in tax subsidies, tax abatements, and cash payments to build a Downtown office building.
But the $70 million project won’t be done unless El Paso County Commissioners also approve tax incentives, said Josh Hunt, executive vice president of Hunt Companies, a national real estate development and management group headed by Hunt’s father, Woody Hunt.
See, I told you $15 million wasn’t enough. Fortunately, Mr. Josh Hunt was thoughtful enough to come up with a way for us to do more. Thank you, Mr. Hunt!
Now, if only we could find a way to subsidize his ballpark every year for the rest of our lives.