City unveils redevelopment plans for Cohen Stadium

26 October 2017

Cohen Stadium has remained mostly vacant since the last pitch was thrown at the ballpark in 2013.

But at a community meeting on Monday the city revealed long-awaited plans to redevelop the Northeast El Paso property, which is owned by the city.

Plans include demolishing the stadium, which opened in 1990 and was the home of the El Paso Diablos. The city would partner with the private sector to redevelop the 25-acre site with hotels, retail, grocery store, student housing, apartments and offices.

The plans would also include a large green space for outdoor concerts and events, an overhead zip line, aquatics facility and athletic center.

Northeast residents have long yearned for more development and waited in great anticipation for the revitalization of Cohen Stadium by the city or private developers.

More than 300 area residents and city officials attended the meeting at the El Paso Community College Transmountain Campus. Many residents spoke critically of the city’s proposal, saying they had expected a large attraction like a water park. Few expected to see residential development.

“That’s grounds for another disappointment,” said James Brown, 47, a longtime Northeast resident.

City Rep. Sam Morgan and architect Eugenio “Pacelli” Mesta, with El Paso-based Exigo, presented the early master plan for the site. Morgan told the audience that the city was going to take the feedback from the community and come back in January with a refined proposal.

“That’s exactly what we are here for,” Morgan said. “Seeking input to find out what works in our community. Everyone said they wanted something, but no one could tell us what they wanted to see.”

The city had comment cards available for residents to write their opinions.

“Having the residential area in that place is not very smart.” said Joan Nunez, a 21-year-old Northeast resident. “Something like a mixture of Wet ‘n Wild water park and Adventure Zone, a Bob O’s and Western Playland makes more sense.”

Since he was sworn in about four months ago, Morgan says he has pushed for a city redevelopment plan for Cohen Stadium. He says it was something he heard a lot while on the campaign trail.

City Engineer Sam Rodriguez said it’s too early to tell where funding for the development would come from, adding that the city may explore a public-private partnership as an option to fund the project.

The development would be built in five phases, according to the city. The first phase includes the construction of a hotel and retail area next to a fairgrounds area at the corner of Gateway North and Cohen Avenue. It also includes the construction of a regional aquatic facility and athletic facility.

The second phase includes retail and office spaces, a parking garage and a Sun Metro transit terminal near the intersection of Cohen and Kenworthy.

The third phase includes building student housing and apartments next to the EPCC campus.

The fourth phase includes building more student housing, commercial development and apartments.

The last phase would include the construction of a residential area on Kenworthy Street, near the EPCC campus.