In order to move El Paso city employees out of City Hall, new office space must be located. Without a move, El Paso won't be able to strike a deal to demolish City Hall and build a ballpark in its place.
In August a plan to purchase the El Paso Times building was unveiled. At the time, a presentation highlighting the move capped the purchase price at $11 million. So when the item was being brought back up for final approval during the upcoming city council meeting, red flags were raised when the purchase price was listed as $14 million.
"It shouldn't have happened," said City Representative Susie Byrd. "Obviously from our city staff side, and the real estate company that has been working with us, they were not paying enough attention to the appraisal for the basis for the negotiations."
Byrd, who works in the appraisal business, said it's a mistake that shouldn't have occurred. According to her, the market value is around $10 million, and that should be the basis for negotiations.
City Manager Joyce Wilson said the discrepancy comes down to the initial appraisal. The building and parking lot were appraised separately, but when combined the numbers were reduced. The larger number that appeared on city council's agenda was the combination of the two separate appraisals combined.
Wilson said the negotiations will have to be re-opened.
"The seller will get their own appraisal and we will compare and contrast and possibly renegotiate price," said Wilson. "(The) seller is apparently still interested in the transaction."
Wilson said by email Friday that she didn't think it was a big deal. She also said that this shouldn't affect the baseball deal, something that Byrd agreed with her on, telling ABC-7 that at this point it's just important to make sure transparency remains.
"In an issue like this, fought with many concerns and questions, you really need to double down and do extra work and step up the level of work," said Byrd.
Ten other items appear on Tuesday's council meeting agenda. Those items will still move forward. It's a big day for the downtown ballpark proposal. The vote will likely decide whether city hall is demolished, or whether baseball becomes a foul ball.
The purchase of the El Paso Times building will not be discussed as it has been removed from the agenda thanks to the discrepancy. It can be reposted, and acted on, at a later date.