by Adolfo Pesquera
El Paso (El Paso County) – While City Council has been receptive to public interest in a mixed-use development on the 50-acre site of Cohen Stadium, it is apparent little progress will be made without a public-private partnership.
Public hearings held in 2017 for public input resulted in a conceptual master plan that was prepared by EXIGO Architecture.
Located in northeast El Paso, the stadium’s boundaries are Gateway North Boulevard, Cohen Avenue, Kenworthy Street and Whispering Springs Drive. More than half of the property is undeveloped vacant land and the majority of what remains is paved surface parking.
The stadium itself occupies a fraction of the site. Opened in 1990 at a cost of $7.8 million, it was home to the El Paso Diablos minor league baseball franchise until 2013. It has also been used as a venue for concerts, monster truck rallies, and minor league soccer games.
Conceptual master plan by EXIGO Architecture, with matrix of public comments on possible uses.
Any future plans for a mixed-use development would require the stadium’s demolition.
Based on public comments and the direction of city leaders, Exigo produced a site plan and illustrations that envision a family-friendly development that would have a circular central park, indoor and outdoor athletic facilities, including a covered soccer field, and water park. Other suggestions of a civic or institutional nature include a senior center and a set-aside of land for a future school–either for El Paso Community College, the El Paso Independent School District, or University of Texas at El Paso.
Large sections of the development would be devoted to retail, restaurant, hotel and multifamily apartment uses, and that is where the private development comes into the picture.
As presently imagined, the private retail and hospitality development would be concentrated in the northwest quadrant. The park and public athletic facilities would be generally located where the stadium stands today. Multifamily uses would be concentrated to the northeast quadrant and educational facilities would be to the south with access to and from Whispering Springs Drive.
Exigo first unveiled its maps and architectural renderings in January and City Council has revisited the project several times since, but without making any firm commitments. Staff has been instructed to research funding options and is scheduled to deliver a report April 30.
Rending of the athletic facilities. Courtesy of EXIGO Architecture.
City Engineer Sam Rodriguez has compiled a final plan that is awaiting council approval, according to Strategic Partnerships Inc.
At present, the only funds that have been dedicated for development is $7.7 million that council voted for in December to build a regional water park. Construction of the water park is expected to occur first.
The second phase would involve construction of a media broadcasting studio and outdoor jumbo screen where park visitors could watch movies from their folding lawn chairs.
Demolition of the 10,000-seat stadium could take place this year.
One of the requested uses for the central park is the installation of an outdoor jumbo screen and stage (above) where families can gather and watch movies and other media/courtesy of EXIGO Architecture. Cohen Stadium (below) as it appears today from Cohen Avenue/photo courtesy of Google Maps.