Downtown Plan: Update
Major events this year have led to the formation of a viable plan to help revitalize our downtown area. Here is a look at how the City came to this point.
Over two years ago, the El Paso City Council undertook the task of commencing a process to develop a plan to revitalize downtown. The Paso del Norte Group (PDNG), a local foundation, took the lead per the direction of the then City Council, to develop the plan. The SMWM planning firm was brought on board by the PDNG to assist with plan development, and on March 31st of this year, a preliminary framework was unveiled to the community. The City of El Paso then took over the plan with the initiation of an intensive public input process to vet the preliminary framework in the community. Input received at these meetings assisted in forming and revising a more solid framework - one that was approved at the July 10th Special City Council Meeting. This meeting was a milestone within the process, bringing forward guiding values to foster positive progress, a call to local governmental entities to bring their operations downtown and a resolution to place a one-year moratorium on the use of eminent domain as a tool to assist with the eventual implementation of the plan.
From this point on, the City concentrated efforts on developing the specific land-use recommendations, design guidelines and standards that would be applied to the identified downtown study area. Once developed, all of the land-use specifications were brought before the City Plan Commission (CPC) and discussed throughout a series of meetings held beginning in late September. The CPC approved moving forward with amending the City's Comprehensive Master Plan to include the land-use plan for downtown.
This brings us to recent events - the approval of the Downtown 2015 Land-Use Plan by the City Council (10-31-06). Though there has been much progress within the Downtown Plan process, there is still quite a ways to go.
Work has already begun to develop a three-year strategy that includes the formation of a Downtown Redevelopment Office to oversee the implementation phase of the plan, the creation and implementation of a Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone as a financing mechanism, the development of an incentives program for new and existing business alike, and the rezoning of the identified redevelopment area.
For more information on the Downtown Plan, visit the City's website at www.elpasotexas.gov.