The Devitalization of Downtown

Look at that map. I’ve highlighted the ballpark, the civic center, and the proposed site for the arena.

I’m guessing that’s fifteen or twenty acres.

That’s fifteen or twenty acres of downtown El Paso that aren’t going to be utilized most of the time.

The Chihuahuas only play 71 regular season games at home. There are shows fairly often at the Abraham Chavez, but how about the rest of the Civic Center? And the proposed arena? Right now we don’t have an anchor tenant. If we get a D League basketball team, that’s only 25 games a season. Plus whatever other events that can suck from the Don Haskins Center, the Coliseum, and the Pan Am Center in Las Cruces.

Our experience over the last three years has shown us that there’s not a lot of collateral activity that takes place before or after the baseball games. I would expect basketball games to generate similar results. And concerts? We can probably expect the black t-shirt crowd to pre-party, slamming Bud Lights in parking lots before the show.

My point is that we’re going to have fifteen or twenty acres of downtown El Paso that will be vacant most of the time. That once-trendy Union Plaza Entertainment District will be separated from the rest of downtown by a desolate dead zone of lifeless monoliths.

That’s what your city government is fighting for.

Go figger.


  1. Now they want to cohenize the coliseum by building the not needed and unnecessary arena !

    Are these people just plain stupid ? What’s next a water park to replace all the downtown watering holes ? Another Plaza theater ?

    Simple, replace city hall with a new zoo !

  2. Don’t forget all the property taken off the tax rolls in those 15 to 20 blocks also. People tend to forget that and wonder why their tax bills shoot up like a skyrocket.

  3. How is this is substantially different than what the slum lords (i.e. the Downtown Business District) do by letting their properties crumble so that they can claim the lowest possible appraised value and then keep some of the same historic buildings that people are losing their shit over mostly empty and useless?

    There is a reason that people keep trying to revitalize downtown and that’s because the current owners have let it fall apart and turn into a strip mall for second-hand chanklas and cheap electronics that are better suited to burn down your house than do anything useful. I live downtown and walk around a lot and I’m constantly amazed at just how crappy the owners let their properties get. Folks like Billy Abraham are the worst but he’s not the only one who seems to have a hoarding disorder that is applied to our historic downtown buildings.

    To be honest I’m more disgusted with the current batch of owners than with folks who are coming in to try and improve the area. I don’t know if the Arena or even the Ballpark will be worthwhile in the end but they aren’t any worse than properties that are appraised at pennies on the dollar because their owners would rather minimize their tax bill than invest some money to make them something worthwhile.

    1. I think if you do some research, and learn a bit about the real history of downtown and those who own property there, you’ll find that you might well be misunderstanding what has happened there between those property owners and the greedy bastards who have made up City Council for many, many years. For one thing, downtown has been constantly dying since sometime in the 1970’s, as the City allowed things to deteriorate. First, due to pressure from merchants in Cd. Juarez, they let the original trolleys die. Those trolleys used to carry passengers around Cd. Juarez, across the bridges, around town, and back, for literally, pennies. El Paso lost downtown business also because the major stores went away, with the local names being beaten down by national chains (The Popular), and even major chains leaving for the shopping malls and shopping centers.
      What incentive is left for anyone to own and maintain anything downtown?

      1. In Texas the City didn’t allow downtown to deteriorate, that was the property owners. Who left buildings mostly empty for decades at a time? Property owners. Who fought the City when it tried to implement rules for abandoned buildings? Property owners.

        Maybe you should do some research into how other Cities have improved their downtowns and take a look at how many really awesome examples came about because property owners decided to put some of their money into their properties so that they could have something special. Instead you have El Paso where the downtown property owners feel entitled to demanding new sidewalks and landscaping etc. so that they can make money in their shops without having to put money into their buildings. Or where so many of our great historic buildings are just this side of firetraps because the owners (like Billy Abraham) will fight the City tooth and nail so that they can keep letting their buildings rot away in the sun.

  4. Malls are what killed downtowns throughout the US. And what does El Paso do ? Build malls. Unless downtown stores are selling unique items that aren’t anywhere else they won’t survive.

    Why build more restrauants and bars ? They’re located in better places. Business offices ? Sidewalks will continue to be rolled as business close for the day. More downtown hotels ? That’s the biggest bs going. Electronic trash cans and a super sized monitor and what did that do for the city? Not a thing. A poor imitation of Central Park didn’t do anything. Bicycles for rent ? Hardly rented. Brio buses that carry a couple of passenagers, nope making the bus windows even darker doesn’t hide that fact. Oh let’s build a trolley system. The tramway is not used often nor draws tourists after a year or two the trolley will lose its appeal. Plus, there’s no way the trolley can generate enough revenue to cover the million dollars operating cost. Let’s demolish a good city hall building because it was beyond repair. What did the maintenance crews do all year ? Then to improve service let’s scatter the offices throughout El Paso. Forget the streets, try to fix them and get investigated !

    You get the point. The pattern is obvious we are governed by very incompetent people that love to waste money to look like other cities. whose fault, not theirs. ITs OUR FAULT because we voted for them without being informed, drone voted or didn’t voted at all.

  5. walking through and driving through that proposed arena footprint on a daily basis, I don’t see any “trendiness” going on in those blocks. What I do see is a lot of empty lots, parking lots and hardly any activity even on weekends. However, I do see activity west of that footprint over by Durango, and Anthony streets. What if the the arena doesn’t get built? I feel that those blocks of Duranguito would continue to be desolate. Maybe it would rise up and become active, one simply does not know. It’s a tough call.

  6. Would SOMEONE point out SOMETHING from the City or the “Arena” backers that explains what we do not get now in El Paso that the “Arena” would make possible? Rolling Stones? Nah, been here…Guns and Roses? Monster Trucks? JuanGa? Willie Nelson? WHAT???

    Other than an attempt by the City to drain shows from UTEP or the County Coliseum, what is the point???

    IF it’s for soccer, say so and fix up Cohen Stadium!!!

  7. There will be lots of people downtown…Stuck in traffic and Looking for a place to park!

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