How El Paso (and Juarez) Are Different Than Chicago

I was born in Chicago. I don’t remember it well. I was young at the time.

There was a time, in the recollectable past, when you could knock down buildings in Chicago, and right away someone else would move in and build a lifestyle center. There was so much pent up demand for urban space, and so few options for large scale development, that all you had to do was persuade the right people to bring out the bulldozers.

El Paso (and Juarez) aren’t like that. They weren’t like that before the world economy stumbled, and they’re not like that now. Unfortunately, once you put a ship of state on a course of action, it’s hard to double back after you figure out you were wrong.

Nobody had a better use for that land around the Mariscal in 2006, and nobody has a better use for it now. The idea that you can drive down the value till someone wants to buy it is draconian.

And besides, there’s no margin in it.

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