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El Paso awards half a million dollar contract to NY-based firm

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POSTED: Tuesday, December 17, 2013 - 7:27pm

UPDATED: Tuesday, December 17, 2013 - 8:13pm

More development for El Paso -- as three major construction projects are in the works. Everything from a children's museum -- to a performing arts facility -- but a debate is brewing over exactly where they should be built.

The City of El Paso is moving forward with these projects -- A children's museum, a multi-purpose cultural and performing arts facility, and a Hispanic cultural center, all approved by voters in the 2012 bond election. While the museum and the multipurpose facility will be built downtown, the cultural center may be housed somewhere else in the Sun City.

A unanimous decision is met with some hesitancy in Tuesday's city council meeting

"I did not want to feel that we were locked into it, and we're not,” City Rep. Lily Limon of District 7 said. The previous city council designated downtown for a new Hispanic cultural center. Rep. limon wants the city to keep an open mind. "If it's going to be a cultural center representative of our city, then this organization needs to look at the entire city."

The city awarded a more than 600-thousand-dollar contract to HKS, an architectural firm that will survey parts of El Paso for a children's museum, the cultural center, and a multipurpose cultural and performing arts facility.

"We've been directed to stay completely open-minded. Although the facts are there's a lot of infrastructure downtown that supports some of the bigger buildings,” Randall Morton of HKS explained.

The firm will survey downtown and reach out to the public for input. "To go and walk us through this process and let us know where we can get the most 'bang for our buck' as far as location for these individual properties," City Rep. Cortney Niland of District 2 said.

For the city's interim engineer, the multi-purpose facility looks especially promising. "That's a game changer and a really great potential revenue generator for the area wherever it may finally end up,” Irene Ramirez said. As these projects move forward with a 473 million dollar pricetag from inception to completion, "We're really happy and excited to get going on this so we can start the planning process and look to where we will cite these facilities."

The city is hoping the multi-million dollar investment will bring a greater return. The HKS contract also includes a $50,000 contingency fund.
 

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