Heavy manufacturing proposal for Northeast clears hurdle, developer opposes current plans

Local

City looking for tenant and railroad extension

Courtesy of city of El Paso

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – City planners are not sharing whether a tenant is in mind to fill a proposed manufacturing area in Northeast El Paso but are hinting at an economic development effort.

For now, the city of El Paso’s planning teams are looking to rezone over 1,000 acres of undeveloped land in the Northeast to make way for a large manufacturing and warehousing complex on the state line. The structure would be hundreds of feet away from residential spaces in Chaparral, New Mexico.

The land is near Stan Roberts Drive and is East of U.S. 54. The 1,042 acres belong to the city, according to the El Paso Central Appraisal District.

In total, the site would provide an estimated 45.3-million square-feet of manufacturing and warehouse space, according to city documents.

The plan drew opposition from a few residents and developer Doug Schwartz, a prominent developer. He asked the city make greater requirements to mitigate noises and disturbances to future residences that may be built close to the area.

“I believe you received our letter in opposition for… oppose just because this is putting the cart before the horse without having any known uses,” Doug Schwartz told the plan commission.

On Thursday, the city plan commission voted in favor of the rezoning with an additional requirement of 8 percent landscaping on the site. Tuesday’s item was only to change the zoning of the land from ranch and farmland to what is known as M-2, or heavy manufacturing.

Now, the El Paso City Council will have to consider the plan and make a decision on what to do with the land.

A close look at a development plan of the site shows two buildings with space for one 4-million square feet and 2-million square feet. It also shows spaces for several manufacturing buildings, and office spaces and hazardous materials storage – all over 100,000 square-feet big.

Juan Uribe, a member of the commission and commercial real estate broker, mentioned warehousing and industrial space was not historically placed in the Northeast due to its distance from international bridges and Interstate 10. He said commercial land along Railroad began selling for $1-a-foot because “no one wanted to build down there.”

A closer look at plans for undeveloped land in the Northeast. / Courtesy of the city of El Paso

He said the land in the Northeast would be best used for residential purposes, based on his previous experiences.

“If the city is trying to attract industry use for this area, I think it’s not the best use,” Uribe said.

Carlos Gallinar, another member of the commission and former mayoral candidate, disagreed with Uribe. He said placing manufacturing spaces away from areas where people lived would be the best way to plan for the city.

And, that allowing residential spaces to continue sprawling to the edges of the city would not be ideal.

“We still need manufacturing. We still need industrial. We need warehousing,” he said. “And, if the intent by the city to put these land uses somewhere, in this case it’s in the outskirts of the city, close to the state line, to me that seems like if they have to go somewhere, we cannot not have these types of businesses or land uses. From a land use perspective, a regional planning perspective, this might make the most ideal sense.”

The city would not disclose whether there is a tenant in mind for what would be a manufacturing development in the proposed area. But city planners did hint that the proposal would mean opportunities for economic development.

Sam Rodriguez, the city engineer, told the commission the city is in discussions with a railroad company to bring a line off of Dyer and U.S. 54.

“It’s a very costly investment that would be required and we want to make sure we have a tenant before we proceed with any formal plans,” Rodriguez said.

As for the origin of the plan presented to the city plan commission, officials said it was to envision what the site might look like.

“What you’re seeing is a conceptual plan of what we think potentially where buildings would go,” Philip Etiwe, the director of the city’s Planning and Inspections department said.

It’s not the first time the city of El Paso has seen a rezoning request to make way for manufacturing space this year. Earlier this year, over 200 acres of undeveloped land were requested to be rezoned to make way for 13 warehouses and industrial buildings just East of Loop 375 and close to North Loop.

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