Will Paul Foster Do Better?

Now that the Borderplex Real Estate Investment Trust has sold its downtown real estate assets to Paul Foster’s Franklin Mountain Investments, can El Paso expect some real economic development?

Probably not.

Despite the REIT’s lack of a public persona, one should assume that the leaders still had their thumb on the scale when it came to public policy. They were big downtown real estate investors. You know they had a seat at the table in the Star Chamber.

Mr. Foster was, presumably, one of he masterminds behind the ballpark, which, though only five years old, has its best days behind it.

Mr. Foster got rich because he owned the production facilities of a commodity. You can’t revitalize a city by selling it like it were a commodity.

Cities have to have sizzle. They have to have cool.

Pretending to be something you’re not isn’t cool, but that’s the path that our leaders have chosen to revitalize El Paso. Our leaders hired suits to lead them to cool.

There are suits who are cool. Donny Deutsch comes to mind. But any suit worth his salt won’t move to El Paso. El Paso doesn’t have enough synergy for the cool suits. El Paso is a dead end. There’s no path to further advancement from El Paso. Not in El Paso. If you take a job in El Paso, with, say, the City, the only other job you might possibly get is at a local school district.

For creatives, El Paso is where careers come to die.

A’s hire A’s. B’s hire C’s.

And the plutocracy in El Paso wants to keep their progeny in control.

It’s disheartening for the people who love El Paso. And I know you won’t leave.

Because everyone that can leave El Paso has already left.


  1. On my way out in the next six months, I’ll leave a light on for you, Rich.

  2. I think your last line in this is wrong, Rich. There are still more people who can leave who haven’t left -yet. They will, soon enough. Even those who would really prefer to stay will be forced to leave. There’s a big world of choices out there waiting for them.

  3. Well, since each generation loses a few more (especially when our kids choose a university anywhere else), not everybody who can, has [yet]. But, there is no real arguing with the simple fact that many of us who stay feel that we have little choice. Our (my wife and I) reality is that we are retired, with a mortgage, so even if we could sell our little house for top dollar, we could not realize enough cash to consider anything comparable anywhere else. Yes, yes, we could move to Las Cruces, but that is not really getting to a better place (sorry Las Cruces, but you know it’s true). We’d love to live closer to three of our four adult children (Austin/San Antonio), but we can’t afford the move.

  4. At first I thought somebody pissed in you post Toasties but then I read your pithy exposition again realized you were imparting the wisdom of the ages. El Paso ain’t for everybody. The glacial effect of our culture will eventually grind the Top Flights and Chili’s restaurants into to dust of the ages. Fuck em. I like it here. And I got nuthin but time.

  5. Rich, it is interesting that Mr. Sanders is getting out of the El Paso REIT business. Foster is no dummy, as are the other “movers and shakers” that have been mentioned before. MIMCO being another. I just don’t see El Paso growing, and in fact, I see more “brain drain.” It is a place to retire and live out the “golden years,” cheap, good Mexican food. Alot of sun and a half-way decent healthcare system (although for anything serious, I wouldn’t trust any of them with my dog). Look at what happened to Trae Apodaca. The always shrinking El Paso times is no different than what is happening in other cities. We’re not unique.
    I would imagine if Sanders wants to invest in a more robust city and REITS, in Texas at least, Austin, San Antonio, heck, even San Marcos, are projected to do much better. But El Paso? What is the future? Manufacturing is a dying industry–destined to be outsourced to a 3rd World Country. High Tech? Not gonna happen in El Paso. Competing with Austin and San Antonio, with its ‘quality of life’ amenities? Heck, the Whole Foods the city begged for is barely hanging on. No Trader Joes, and years after the rest of the state opened its stores, Total Wine will be (finally) coming in. These corporations are sophisticated and plan their growth strategy accordingly. El Paso is great for some, but it has the same issues as the other Texas border cities.
    Bright, young talented graduates are not hanging around. Other than their family ties, there is nothing for them here.
    Plus, the city “leadership” is in terrible shape. A trolley system that has lost $900,000? A ballpark that has lost money as well? Heck, even the golf courses are losing money. But City Council just rubberstamps whatever Dee Margo and the Business Elite/Star Chamber want.
    Someday, I imagine El Paso will change its name to “FosterVille.” At least he’s done a better job than Billy Abraham. We’ll have a shiny, brand new downtown with renovated buildings and an over abundance of hotels. But, who will be around to enjoy them?

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