The winds of change are blowing in Downtown El Paso, and it's not just the weather.
The El Paso Times last week moved to its new home near the Union Plaza Entertainment District, and some city employees will begin moving into the newspaper's old building on North Campbell Street in a few days.
The newspaper's blue and red sign came down Friday, leaving only an imprint on the wall. Soon, a temporary city sign will be in its place while a permanent sign is designed and built.
All around City Hall, work crews are moving out furniture, tearing up streets to move underground cables, cutting down trees at the main entrance and preparing the 10-story building, as well as the Insights El Paso Science Center nearby, for
"It'll be interesting to watch the transformation," said Sunset Heights resident Olivia Delgado, who frequents the Downtown library and walked around the site Friday. "I didn't want to see these buildings torn down, but now that it's going to happen it's kind of exciting to see the change."
Tuesday, city engineer Alan Shubert will update the City Council on the status of the ballpark design and overall project status. Shubert said the city is finalizing a contract with a demolition company but couldn't yet say what company had been selected.
Shubert also wouldn't say if the city has set a date for demolition of either building, but said more information could be available this week.
City officials had
originally hoped to begin tearing down the Insights building by late February or early March and implode the City Hall building by March 31. Officials have said City Hall could be imploded in mid-April.
Last week, city relocation manager John Neal presented the council with a relocation update, which gave a March 31 deadline to release the building for demolition.
About half of the 600 employees with City Hall offices have been moved, Neal said.
On Thursday, the offices of the city manager, internal audit, public affairs and mayor and council are scheduled to begin moving to the second floor of the former Times building. The city attorney's office will begin moving March 14, followed by the office of budget and management the week after.
Other city departments -- including financial services, human resources and the municipal clerk -- are scheduled to move into the building by March 28.
Other departments have already moved to temporary locations while the Times building, the building on Texas Avenue and the Luther Building are renovated.
City officials said council meetings will continue to be held at City Hall for the next few weeks. Council chambers will later be on the first floor of the former Times building, which is currently being renovated. Council meetings may temporarily be held at the Main Library in Downtown if renovations are not completed by the time City Hall needs to be vacated, officials have said.
Aaron Velasco, chairman of the Insights board of directors, said the center's keys were handed over to the city Feb. 11, just a few days before it was to have vacated the city-owned building.
Most of the Insights exhibits are now in storage at Alamo Elementary School under a use agreement with the El Paso Independent School District. Its Danny Olivas collection is being held at the New Mexico Space History Museum. Olivas is the NASA astronaut and University of Texas at El Paso graduate who was part of the STS-117 Atlantis mission to the international space station in 2007.
The city is also working with Insights to purchase the 130-year-old tower clock that long was part of the center. An appraisal is under way, officials said.
Insights closed its doors Dec. 15.
"We're closed, but we're not dead," Velasco said, adding that the board of directors will continue meeting and developing a strategy for its future.
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