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At the heart of El Paso: a decade of downtown revitalization

By: Genevieve Curtis

El Paso, Texas-- City and business leaders took a look back on the last decade in downtown El Paso and mapping out what is to come.    

In reviewing a decade of change in downtown, City Manager Joyce Wilson's message is simple: when a downtown does well the city does well.  

Go to any city in this country, and the first thing you do is go downtown and if the downtown isn't healthy, and vibrant and active it gives you a sense of the health of the city, said Wilson.

A decade ago downtown faced many challenges, rampant with vacant buildings and lacking businesses or residential living.  

Major projects in the past 10 years, like the first private/public partnership project to restore the Plaza Theater, have helped breathe new life into the heart of the city.  

The city developed a downtown plan and incentives that brought about private investment and saw life breathed into blighted buildings like the International hotel, now the Double Tree.   Gems like the Mills building were restored.  

Wilson said since 2006 the city has seen more than $450 million in public and private investments.  

Today, there's residential living, new businesses and more on the way.  

Projects like the ballpark and San Jacinto Plaza are close to completion as the heart of the city continues to grow.  

Wilson says the goal is to make downtown everyones neighborhood.  

David Grabarkewitz works downtown in the Cortez building. He moved to El Paso in 2009 from New York City and Atlanta to work for the El Paso Opera.  

Hes a self-described big fan of the city on the rise.

We have to remember that we were once the great city of the southwest and yes, we have Phoenix that came along and Albuquerque, which is trying.  But honestly, we are the great city here and people should take a look at that, said Grabarkewitz.

Other key projects that Wilson said will continue to help downtown grow include the Children's museum and multi-purpose Entertainment Center approved in the 2012 quality of life bonds.



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