EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — The famed Rosa’s Cantina in El Paso’s Upper Valley is trying to get a piece of land back from the Texas Department of Transportation after TxDOT said it no longer plans to use the property for a project.

Patricia Telles, owner of Rosa’s Cantina, said she and her father, Adolpho Telles, fought TxDOT to keep the property as early as 2015. However, the Telles’ lost the eminent domain dispute in 2017.

The Telles’ received a little more than $216,000 in compensation and damages from TxDOT at the time.

“Our argument at that was that it directly impacted us because by them taking that lot,” Telles said.

Telles said the piece of land, which is located just a few feet down the street from the cantina, was going to be used as an additional parking lot before TxDOT took ownership.

“We lost about 50 spaces, which dramatically was detrimental to our business,” Telles said. “Our argument was how much would they pay in damages that our business incurred due to loss of parking spaces.”

Telles said TxDOT was originally planning to use the acquired land for a deep pond project, which didn’t work out.

“We told them it wouldn’t work,” Telles said. ” I know the water table in this area is very high. Most of the residential and businesses in this area require flood insurance because the water table in this area, so we let them know back then a water tank was not going to work.”

Telles said that in November 2020, TxDOT notified them they were not going to use the property after all.

“We received a letter from TxDOT stating that they weren’t going to need the property anymore and that we had the first right of refusal to purchase the property back from them,” Telles said.

However, Telles said TxDOT wants the full amount they gave them back in return.

“Those damages already happened, we already incurred them — we can’t undo the damage that’s already there — and also litigation fees, so ultimately if they want the same amount they gave us, we would, in essence, have paid them to borrow the property,” Telles said.

Telles said they agree on paying TxDOT but don’t think it should be the full amount. She said they made them an offer but it was turned down.

“We want to pay what the property is worth and willing to give a little more even, but I think it’s ludicrous to ask for the full amount back,” Telles said.

TxDOT El Paso said it doesn’t handle this locally and does not comment on ongoing negotiations. TxDOT Headquarters was not immediately available at the time of this writing.

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