City to negotiate purchase of El Paso Times building and 2nd building for new City Hall

City Approves Purchase of 2/3 Downtown Buildings

EL PASO, Texas - El Paso City Council held a more than three-hour discussion Tuesday on the proposed relocation of City Hall in order to make way for the construction of  $50 million ballpark on the current city hall site.

In the end, council decided against acquiring three buildings and went with just two.

The City will negotiate the purchase of the El Paso Times building at 300 N. Campbell and the building at 801 and 811 Texas, which council feels will give the City roughly 150-thousand square feet total, deemed enough room for the move.

The El Paso Times employees will have to move out of the 15-year-old building at 300 N. Campbell. The newspaper's publisher, Sergio Salinas, said in an El Paso Times article Saturday that the newspaper's second floor is available for lease but the article did not mention the possibility of selling the building.

City of El Paso spokeswoman Juli Lozano on Monday said leasing or buying the Times building had become possibilities.

City Council decided against an option to also negotiate the purchase of the Paul Foster-owned Luther building, which would have cost more than $17 million  to renovate for the IT department.

By going with two buildings instead of three, council was able to cut the estimated relocation cost from nearly $40 million to $22 million.

Locations evaluated for new City Hall include: Wells Fargo building, Stanton Tower, Centre Building, Blue Flame Building, 1 Texas Tower, Mills Building, Cortez Building, Chase Building, Martin Building, El Paso Times Building, Centre Court Building, 801 Texas Building, Luther Building, Mesa at Boston Building, and Old El Paso Electric Building.

The current City Hall will be demolished to make way for a baseball stadium for a possible Triple-A team.

The Pacific Coast League's executive committee on July 30 announced it had unanimously approved the preliminary application review (PAR) application by MountainStar Sports Group, bringing a Triple-A team one step closer to being moved to El Paso.

The PCL's president sent a letter to El Paso City Manager Joyce Wilson, which stated that a Control Interest Transfer application has been sent to Minor League Baseball and that review has started.

"Because the Ownership Group has already been approved under the PAR process, we expect the CIT review to be straightforward and we do not anticipate any issues," PCL President Branch B. Rickey said in the letter.

Joshua Hunt, a partner in MountainStar Sports Group, said the PAR approval letter from Rickey was a very positive sign from the Pacific Coast League and Minor League Baseball.

"This is all part of the baseball process, and it's a big step forward," Hunt said last week. "There are other necessary steps of approval, but we're getting very close."

Hunt added that this is big, positive news for the City.

"This is as close as this City's ever been in its history to having a Triple-A, professionally-affiliated team," Hunt said. "That's exciting, and it's a tribute to El Paso that our community was carefully vetted by Minor League Baseball and the PCL. Our City can be proud of that; there are only thirty Triple-A Baseball teams in the country."

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