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Downtown living key to success of revitalization

By: Genevieve Curtis

EL PASO, Texas--In most big cities, downtown living is the norm. But El Pasoans are just starting to return to the urban lifestyle.
Downtown residents are a key part in downtown revitalization because residents will support businesses, shops and restaurants downtown and at the same time, they create a need for more to open.
In 2010, when the whispers of downtown revitalization were getting louder, Sandra and Humberto Mendoza traded in a life on the Far East side for one in the center of the city.
They moved their young family to the first avenue lofts.
We both like the idea of being able to walk to events if something fun is happening downtown, we are right there, said Sandra Mendoza.
They enjoy walking or riding their bikes to the nearby museums, banks, shops and restaurants.
They also love the atmosphere at downtown events like Chalk the Block, AL Fresco Fridays and the Plaza Film festival.
When we first moved here a lot of the restaurants closed at five and they were only open during the week days and now a lot of that has expanded to later hours and the weekend as well, said Sandra Mendoza.
More and more people want the type of city life the Mendozas have.
Maybe its not the norm for El Paso but you know hopefully, as time goes by and everything going on downtown hopefully this becomes the norm, said Humberto Mendoza.
City manager Joyce Wilson said a new generation of adults who prefer an urban lifestyle over one in the suburbs is driving a demand for downtown living.
They are looking for more walkable lifestyle. They don't want to commute and drive long distances. Thats why you get this urban village concept, said Wilson.
A big part of downtowns success depends on people who want to call it home.
The more people you have here the more it forces businesses to open up here, restaurants to open up here, grocery stores to open up here the more people we have here the better, said Humberto Mendoza.
Their young family, which includes a  9-year-old and 1-year-old son, has enjoyed the change from the suburbs to the city, and can sense many more will soon follow.
People seem interested. When we do have our friends over that maybe aren't living in this manor they do think its interesting and its cool so I think once there are more living areas downtown more people will catch on to the idea, said Sandra Mendoza.
The Mendozas have their season tickets for the El Paso Chihuahuas and are looking forward to more downtown events.
As their neighborhood evolves theyd like to see a grocery store they can walk to a better public transportation.
Nine-year old Gabriel hopes to see a Subway system someday.
But most of all theyd like to see more people with a downtown address.
I think encouraging more people to want to live here and then encourage those who are able to invest in downtown, to invest into having people live here, said Humberto Mendoza.
The Mendozas said the open layout at their loft wont work forever; the boys will get bigger and need their own space. But even when that time comes, they do intend to keep the loft they own for when the boys are old enough to move out on their own or even when its just the two of them again.