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City recommending Gateway Hotel be demolished following inspection

By: Bill Melugin
EL PASO, Texas -- The city of El Paso is recommending to the Building and Standards Commission that the downtown Gateway Hotel be demolished due to numerous code violations.

As KFOX14 reported, multiple agencies went into the hotel on Monday and relocated the occupants due to a serious amount of hazardous code violations.

Some of those violations include carbon monoxide leaks throughout the building, exposed electrical wires, multiple fire hazards, no working smoke detectors and leaking of raw sewage among many other things.

City officials said they have identified the owner of the property, but haven't been able to get in contact yet.

That property owner will have around 30 days to respond or correct the code violations. If that doesn't happen, the city will make a recommendation to the Building and Standards Commission, which will determine the Gateway Hotel's fate.

"The recommendation from the city is going to be to demolish the property," said code compliance manager Elda Rodriguez-Hefner.

Fire officials said the residents of the hotel had to be immediately removed from the property and relocated because their lives were legitimately in danger.

"What you saw occur on Monday, the task force gathered together, they went out, and conducted an actual inspection floor by floor, room by room of the Gateway Hotel to check on the imminent hazards that we had a concern about," said assistant fire chief Calvin Shanks. "Based on the assessment we made that day, it was identified there were some immediate hazards, which created an immediate threat to the residents of that structure, and with that in mind, the actions that were taken to shut off the utilities, move the people to a safer location were taken."

Officials were questioned as to why Immigration and Customs Enforcement federal agents were there as well.

El Paso Police Sgt. Chris Mears said they weren't there as part of the inspection.

"They went out there more as a courtesy to see what's going on, there was a lot of work going on, they helped escort some people up to get some property," Mears said.

If the hotel's fate is demolition, officials had no timetable on when it might happen, saying only that it would be put on a list of other buildings that are already scheduled to be demolished.