Anyone who has driven past Downtown El Paso on Interstate 10 lately has seen the steel framework for a new building rising into the air.
But what is it and what will it look like when it's finished?
The $11 million building will be the new headquarters for United Bank of El Paso del Norte. It's a four-story building with a 120-foot high Spanish Colonial tower on one end, changing the skyline and putting a new face on that end of Downtown.
"This is our fourth branch and we've always wanted to be downtown," said Les Parker, chairman of United Bank of El Paso del Norte. "When we started the bank 11 years ago, we wanted to be Downtown but we could not find a location at that time."
Until this old drive-through bank building and parking garage between Campbell and Kansas streets came available. That's when Parker said United Bank seized the opportunity to be part of Downtown revitalization.
"Cities are like living cells," Parker said. "The Downtown is the nucleus of the cell. If Downtown is sick or decayed the cell won't prosper. It will die."
In this case, you could say that Downtown El Paso is getting new bookends. The new Triple-A ballpark where El Paso City Hall now sits will be the first thing people see driving East on Interstate 10. Meanwhile, the new Spanish Colonial style United Bank headquarters will be the first thing people driving West on Interstate 10 will see when they drive through Downtown El Paso.
"That was intentional," Parker said with a smile. "That's indeed why we're painting it white with a red tile roof. I want people to be able to see it and it will be lit at night so they'll see it as well."
Parker believes eventually El Paso will have a beautiful Downtown, from one end to the other, and he felt it was important to be a part of that changing skyline.
"This isn't as much about the bank as it is about El Paso," he said. "Every community that has renovated its Downtown, every community, has prospered afterwards."
The building is expected to be completed by the end of the year. The first floor will be the banking hall. The second and third floors will house 100 indoor parking spaces. The fourth floor will have 17,000 square feet of space to lease.
Parker said the centerpiece in the banking hall will be a 25 ton vault door, brought to El Paso in the 1880's, that he said is so beautiful it looks like it came from Tiffany Jewelers.