El Paso

Mexican American Cultural Center could be housed in downtown library

Level could be added to library

City of El Paso considering building center inside downtown library

EL PASO, Texas - The City of El Paso is exploring the possibility of building the new Mexican American Cultural Center in the downtown library.

The cultural center was approved by voters as part of the 2012 Quality of Life Bond.

"That was the most recent presentation that we've received is that they are looking to accommodate the Mexican American Cultural Center at the library by adding a second floor and then reevaluating the first floor layout to accommodate the culture center," chairman of the Bond Oversight Committee Bernie Sargent said.

Voters approved $5.7 million in bond money to build the cultural center. The city partnered up with the nonprofit Mexican American Cultural Institute.

The Mexican American Cultural Institute was confident, at one point, that it could raise $20 million. But a few months ago, members were operating in the red.

The plan was to retrofit the Abraham Chavez Theater in Downtown El Paso to house the center.

The price tag ballooned to $35 million. The city had pledged $10 million to help cover the cost.

But a 2017 study done by a consultant hired by the city predicted the nonprofit would fall far short of its goal.

The city returned to its original plan of building a cultural center with a budget of $5.7 million, and started looking at other locations.

"There's great opportunities at the locations that we've considered," city engineer Sam Rodriguez said. "We've considered private property as well as city facilities to find out the best recommendation that we can give to council."

The city will host a public meeting on Thursday to provide an update on the status of the project. The public is encouraged to provide input. The meeting will be from 5:30 - 7:30 p.m. at the Museum of History downtown.


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