El Paso

Downtown Development: $70 million for new 14-story building, $78 million to restore Plaza Hotel

EL PASO, Texas - The City's director of economic development is hailing a potential $150 million investment in Downtown El Paso as a breakthrough moment in efforts to revitalize the area.

Tuesday, El Paso City Council approved two incentive packages that will allow a developer to invest an estimated $70 million dollars to build a new 14-story building at 601 N. Mesa.

"This is an exciting day for Downtown El Paso. This will be the first multi-tenant, high-rise Class A office building in Downtown El Paso," said Jessica Herrera, the director of economic development for the City.

"West Star Bank and Hunt Companies will be bringing their offices to Downtown, increasing our overall daytime population and bringing more employees Downtown," Herrera said.

The economic development director told ABC-7 the new building will consist of six floors for office space and another eight floors for a parking garage, which she called a "significant amenity for Downtown."  

"Within that building, we will be adding close to 600 parking spaces," Herrera said.

The incentive agreement for the development at 601 N. Mesa includes nearly $15 million in property and sales tax rebates and abatements.

Construction on the first new high-rise in Downtown El Paso in about 40 years is scheduled to begin in the Spring of 2018 and expected to last in between 18 and 24 months, Herrera said.

Also on Tuesday, Council approved a term sheet outlining what the developer planning to restore the Plaza Hotel is promising and what the City is offering in incentives. The hotel is across the street from the Mills Building near San Jacinto Plaza.

"(The Plaza Hotel) is a historic gem for El Paso," Herrera said, "We are allowing the developer to start pulling permits."

The developer "will be restoring the building into a minimum of 100 hotel rooms, adding new life to what just used to be a beautiful historic gem for El Paso," Herrera said, "It's such a historic and iconic building that contributed to El Paso's history."

Herrera said the developer plans to add 540 parking spaces adjacent to the hotel in a property off San Antonio.

"At a minimum, $78 million will be spent to restore this hotel and bring it back to capacity," Herrera said, "The bottom floor will incorporate a full service restaurant and the upper floors will have lounge space."

Herrera said the design phase, along with applications for permits, will begin within the end of the year. Once construction begins, it is expected to last about 36 months.

Since the Plaza Building is within 1,000 feet of the Downtown Convention Center, it qualifies for City and State property tax incentives.

The incentive package that will be presented to Council for approval in the next month or so.

It includes a 10-year, 100 percent state hotel tax rebate; a 10-year, 100 percent sales tax rebate; a combined 20-years in property tax abatements and rebates from the City; a 10-year 50% rebate on the City's Hotel Occupancy Tax and a waiver of some permit fees.

"It's a huge investment for downtown," Herrera said, "Definitely, a big opportunity."

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