Like a lot of El Pasoans, Elvira Ovando has some good memories of concerts and shows at the Abraham Chavez Theatre.
“It’s part of the heritage of El Paso,” Ovando told KTSM. “If you think about it, it’s been there for a long, long time. I think it just needs to be repaired.”
Bryan Crowe, general manager for Destination El Paso which runs the theater, agrees. Crowe said the sombrero-shaped Downtown icon has seen better days.
“The Abraham Chavez Theatre was built in 1973, 1974,” Crowe told KTSM. “And it’s seen no significant investment and renovation since the early 1990s.”
Crowe went before El Paso City Council this week and told city leaders it’s time to decide what’s next for theater.
“There just needs to be some decisions made as to what we want to do with the facility, what we want its future to be, how long we want to keep operating the facility,” he said.
As KTSM has reported, the Abraham Chavez was supposed to home to the Mexican American Cultural Center, a voter-approved 2012 Quality of Life bond project.
When the group in charge of fundraising extra money for construction ran into financial issues, the City pulled the plug on its partnership and pulled the theater from consideration for the center.
Crowe estimates the theater—which is protected from demolition by a 2012 city council resolution—needs $35M-$45M worth of renovations.
Options for the future, he said, include turning the facility into additional banquet space for the El Paso Convention Center, transforming it into a smaller theater, or just fixing it up.
The Abraham Chavez is one of two theaters run by the City, the other being the Plaza Theatre.
“It’s actually convenient having both,” Crowe said. “Often times, we have things that are in rehearsal in one of the theaters, so having two rooms gives us the ability to have more availability for touring shows.”