El Paso City Council votes to look for ways to repair damaged Duranguito buildings

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Council votes to begin discussions to end arena litigation

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – The El Paso City Council voted unanimously voted to look for ways to repair damaged Duranguito buildings during a meeting on Tuesday.

There are several buildings in the neighborhood on Chihuahua Street that were damaged in 2017 when construction crews moved to demolish the structures.

During Tuesday’s meeting, the council also decided to seek a consultant that can provide a cost estimate on the city’s proposed Multipurpose Performing Arts and Entertainment Center. The project would be built in the Duranguito neighborhood under current city plans.

“It doesn’t take somebody from out of town to tell me what the value of that neighborhood is,” District 6 city Rep. Claudia Rodriguez said. “There’s more than one solution to this problem, and the difficulty we are going to have is find that middle ground.”

The project, commonly referred to as “the arena,” has stalled mainly due to several lawsuits between the city and historic preservationist Max Grossman. A demolition pan is still in place due to one lawsuit arguing over whether the city observed requirements by the Texas Historic Commission’s antiquities code.

The suit alleges an archaeological study, which is required by the state to conduct major demolition of public properties, did not consider a claim that there may be Apache artifacts under the Duranguito neighborhood.

Grossman claims nearly 1,000 Apache men, women and children once lived where the neighborhood stands today. The history traces back before the 18th century when rancher Ponce De Leon built his ranch north of the Rio Grande.

The multipurpose center is one of three signature projects that was featured in the 2012 Quality of Life Bond initiative. And, the city entered into 18 contracts for properties in the so-called footprint of where it wants to build the center.

The city agreed to pay a total of $11.6 million for the properties, according to copies of contracts for the buildings.

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