City Blames Property Owners For Downtown Fire
POSTED: Saturday, April 21, 2012 - 9:43pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, April 25, 2012 - 8:56am
EL PASO, TX — Supporters of the many historic buildings in downtown El Paso gathered this evening to remember a historic building that burnt down on Thursday.
After the fire destroyed a historic John Wesley Hardin building in downtown, community members and city leaders are asking building owners to prevent this from happening again.
"As you're watching it, you know and you start talking to people. Not necessarily anger, but I guess you get a little upset thinking in a sense could have been prevented,” said El Pasoan Gabriel Acuña.
Billy Abraham owns multiple buildings in downtown El Paso, he says Thursday's fire is devastating.
"It's tragic, I mean anytime you have a loss in the community like that it's bad, but bad things happen from time to time,” said Abraham.
Abraham says the city is pressuring him to find tenants for his now vacant building The Kress, but he says the city isn't doing enough to help.
"Inside it's clean, the taxes are paid, and it's really the only thing that is missing is a user. So, as much as I would like to have a user for this building, you know I can't just snap my fingers and make one appear, and that makes it difficult for me and any other investor,” said Abraham.
City Representative Susie Byrd says the city is doing the best it can to motivate property owners to renovate their buildings.
"The individual's that own those buildings that are about to fall down should feel ashamed. The city council has put in place incentives, all of the regularities. We are asking you to not to worry about them. We will get you through them,” said Byrd.
Abraham says tough economic times are making it difficult to find tenants.
"I want to corporate with the city, I mean I've said this one hundred times. I think the fix is to create an economic environment where by there will be some incentives by way of property tax abatements that are significant, not minimal,” said Abraham.
The cause of Thursday's fire is still under investigation.