Take a drive to Mesa and Shadow Mountain, where the new 22-storey building with “ 228 luxury apartments and 219 luxury hotel rooms” will be built, with 715 parking spaces. The City Plan Commission (or rather, the City “Plan” Commission) approved it unanimously despite recommendations from the city plan department itself to reduce the height.
City Council must now approve the rezoning. Let’s guess what will happen. An article in El Paso Inc (http://www.elpasoinc.com/news/local_news/article_facf2acc-0b05-11e6-94b3-63ffc7cf05c4.html) describes developer Stuart Meyers’ connections in El Paso – one of his wife’s sisters is Dori Fenenbock, the EPISD president and another sister is wife of prominent local lawyer Mchael Gopin. His mother-in-law was the wife of bootmaker Tony Lama. Meyers is a long-time friend of Jerry Rubin, Meyer Marcus (chair of Mimco) and Mayor Oscar Leeser. Hmmm…Only those who live within 300 feet of the new building, which is a handful of people on the other side of Shadow Mountain, were notified of the plans in advance and given the opportunity to raise questions, resulting in very few questions.
Leaving aside the puzzling question of what the demand for luxury housing and luxury hotel rooms at Mesa and Shadow Mountain might be (anyone?) let’s consider the implications of those 715 parking spaces. Presentations about this structure have said it will have no impact on traffic, as it is near the “rapid transit” on Mesa! For example, the project is in District 8, whose egregious city representative, Cortney Niland, is quoted as saying that “By placing the bus rapid transit on Mesa, we really hoped to encourage new retail, new housing and new development….we’ve seen it’s working.”
What is the traffic load on Mesa? Can anyone produce a recent traffic survey??? What will the traffic be like when the Drafthouse opens, and more houses above it, and the Aldea development is built? Given the terrain and the existing buidlings/malls/etc along Mesa, it cannot be expanded. Meantime a search of Sun Metro bus schedules stilll shows nothing leaving downtown for the westside after 8:15 pm; the Brio system stops at 6 p.m on Saturday and does not run on Sunday. Can someone explain how the hundreds of occupants of this building will get around town? Will they take the bus to get their groceries at Whole Foods, and/or walk across the street to shop at Goodwill? Anyone want to bet they won’t be using their cars?
While it is nice to contemplate the jobs and spending that this project will produce, for a while, it is hard to see how this will work out positively in the long run…but then I am not a developer, so maybe I just don’t have the insider info I need.