El Paso City Council Postpones Purchase of El Paso Times Building


POSTED: Tuesday, October 2, 2012 - 7:12pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, October 3, 2012 - 1:08pm

In four months, El Paso City Hall will be demolished to make room for a Triple-A baseball park in downtown El Paso. City officials have been considering several buildings to relocate but their plans were delayed.

The city has postponed the purchase of the El Paso Times building as city representatives are expressing concerns with the property’s appraisal.

El Paso City Representatives heard opposition about buying two buildings in downtown as the city prepares to build a $50 million Triple-A baseball park where city hall now stands.

Council was set to vote to purchase the El Paso Times building and it's parking lot at a cost of $12.2 million.

But on Tuesday, the council decided to remove the item from the agenda.

The original proposal had the sale at $14 million. The market value of the El Paso Times building is $10.3 million. A revised appraisal was released last week at $11.87 million.

Representative Cortney Niland said she will not support the purchase of the building if the price is more than it's worth.

"I do not want to be rushed into making a bad decision. I absolutely support the ballpark and I absolutely support the relocation of city hall but the appraisals that week given they weren't accurate and there was conflicting information and I'm certainly not going to pay more than what the market value is," said Niland.

Mayor Cook said he's concerned about time line because city hall is scheduled to be demolished in February.

"Unfortunately when you try to move too fast, things like this happen. There's miscommunication."

The mayor said he thinks buying the building does not make sense.

"Personally I think that we should not even be looking at purchasing the Times building. We should look at leasing it if the long term goal is to find a new city hall."

The purchase of the building on Texas Avenue was rejected by a vote of four to three.

The building is set to house City Development and other customer service oriented departments.

Representative Michiel Noe was one of three reps who voted for that purchase.

"I want to continue to move forward on that one there. It does make sense to put our developmental there. The Texas building, I personally, I know not all members of council disagree with me. I personally don't hold that as a package deal," said Noe.

Now, city officials want two separate appraisals of the El Paso Times building and the Texas building.

And, after that is done, council will reconsider the purchase.

City Manager Joyce Wilson said it will be at least 30 days before new appraisals can be completed.

The Luther Building, which is across the street from the El Paso Times building, has already been donated to the city for the city hall relocation.

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