Another year and another series of downtown buildings are set to be razed. After decades of little activity downtown, it seems like there are reports of buildings being demoed every few months or so. Whether by accident(?) or in the name of progress, even our city hall has come down. In almost all of the instances, there’s been much debate for history or for growth. The latest is a a block of buildings downtown that have preservationists up in arms that enough is enough.
I went down to check out the progress and River Oaks has moved fast to knock down these properties.
The front facades give little indication to the true history of the buildings. Most have been poorly re-skinned in attempts to “modernize” and its tough to see what can be salvaged.
Its natural to point the finger at the current owners but they can’t be held fully to fault. These buildings have had hard lives and it shows. Past “fixes” and “updates” by previous owners often do more damage than good. Restoration is a tricky proposition, requiring vast sums of money to do properly. Look at the recent Mills Building restoration, this was the second time its been done and required a complete gutting to get it right.
Contrast that to the Caples building remodel, which as been stalled forever and will likely never get done by the current owner.
Let’s hope that we don’t continue down the demolition path, erasing what history we have left. Downtown El Paso has lots worth saving and we must find the right mix of restore and reuse or we will wind up with parking lots everywhere.
More pics on flickr: Demolition Time
Just a few shots from a quick hike up a ravine on the northeast side of the Franklin Mountains
I spent some time at the Downtown Artist Market on Saturday and after setting up, I walked up to what is called the Old San Francisco District of El Paso. Its a curious sliver of a neighborhood that looks like it was originally part of Sunset Heights before the freeway cut though town. There’s been a lot of activity in the area with the construction of the Chihuahua’s ballpark, and I wanted to see what effects if any, this has had on the area. I walked up the new pedestrian walkway, turning left at Franklin and about halfway down the block was the first sign of “progress.” The neighborhood laundry has been closed and looks to become some kind of establishment that sells alcohol:
The 60 day TABC required posting was on the door and the lot was fenced up. I’ll bet the cost of entry downtown for a bar/grill establishment has gone up in the last year so, making this location a prime target. It’s a short walk from the ballpark with street parking. Winding around to Missouri, facing east there is another building now empty that used to be a grocery:
There was no obvious activity. l’ll bet it won’t be long before something fills the empty space. The rest of the buildings are residential apartments so you have to figure that some sort parking requirements will go into effect to help the residents. Either that or on game night you just don’t leave your house unless you are coming back after the game. It’s a pretty cool little spot retaining, for now, a lot of charm for this often forgotten part of town. I shot a few more pics before I heading back to the market:
For the full set of pics see: San Francisco District on flickr
While walking around the Union Depot area of downtown El Paso this weekend, I captured a few shots of some of the more interesting buildings around the area. Have a look:
More pics can be found here: Union Depot/Art Market on flickr