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Huge, vacant, El Paso public housing complexes in low-income neighborhoods set for renovations

Vic Kolenc
El Paso Times

Two huge, vacant El Paso public housing complexes, located in two of El Paso’s poorest neighborhoods, are scheduled to get renovated next year.

Renovation of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Apartments, being renamed Sun Pointe Apartments, on just over 11 acres in Northeast El Paso, between Maxwell Street and Hondo Pass Drive, is scheduled to begin next summer. Those have been vacant since August 2020.

Renovation of the almost 22-acre Ruben E. Salazar Apartments, spanning both sides of Paisano Drive in the Chamizal neighborhood in South El Paso, also is tentatively set to begin next summer. The complex has been vacant since 2019.

Both complexes are 48 years old.

The vacant, low-income Salazar public housing complex in South El Paso is to be renovated by the El Paso Housing Authority, now known as Housing Opportunity Management Enterprises, or HOME.

They are owned by the Housing Authority of the City of El Paso, which recently was renamed Housing Opportunity Management Enterprises, or HOME. The renovations are part of the public housing agency's years-long remake of its large, citywide portfolio of apartment complexes for low-income families.

“We mothballed them and are bringing them back online,” said Gerald Cichon, HOME  chief executive officer. “The communities will be happy with what we bring back.”

It’s taken time to get financing for the renovations, Cichon said.

More: $17M, low-income apartment complex in Northeast El Paso latest part of public housing remake

Sun Pointe, with a cost of $26 million, including renovation, financing, and development fees, is to have 146 low-income apartments, HOME data show.

The vacant Roosevelt low-income public housing complex at 4647 Maxwell St., in Northeast El Paso, is to be renovated by El Paso's public housing agency and renamed Sun Pointe Apartments.

Salazar, with an estimated $50 million cost, is to have about 300 low-income apartments.

Both complexes were vacated as part of the housing authority’s years-long Rental Assistance Demonstration program, or RAD, through which dozens of public housing complexes throughout El Paso have been renovated or constructed with more than $1 billion in private and government funding, HOME officials have reported.

Many of the tenants in Salazar were relocated to two of the housing agency's new apartment complexes: Commissioner's Corner at 10700 Montana, near Yarbrough Drive, and Gonzalez Park at 4101 Rich Beem Blvd, both in East El Paso, he said.

Some of the Roosevelt tenants were relocated to the new Medano Heights Apartments at 7801 Medano Drive in West El Paso.

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Salazar and Sun Pointe are among several vacant housing complexes the housing agency plans to renovate. Tentative starting construction dates are from late this year through next year.

Ruben E. Salazar housing complex not far from U.S.-Mexico border

The Salazar complex, located at 311 S. Eucalyptus St., only blocks from the U.S.-Mexico border, is now like a ghost town. The two-floor, townhouse-like apartments' windows and doors are boarded up. The exteriors of the crème-brick buildings are in surprisingly good condition. Palm trees line portions of the empty streets. Overgrown grass and weeds fill the front and backyards of the apartments.

Three buildings have faded murals, including one of Ruben Salazar, a former El Paso journalist killed while covering a 1970 Chicano war protest in Los Angeles, when he worked for the Los Angeles Times.

Part of the complex is next to Douglass Elementary School and Bowie High School, which straddles the U.S.-Mexico border.

It’s located across the street from the housing authority’s huge Tays housing complex, which includes several multi-floor apartment buildings, known as Tays South, and the recently renovated Tays North. Fifty-six, 80-year-old buildings with 278 apartments were renovated in Tays North at a cost of $72 million, according to housing authority information.

In August, the housing agency received approval from the Texas Bond Review Board to sell $50 million in bonds to finance the Salazar renovation.

Franklin D. Roosevelt complex in neighborhood full of apartments

Plans for the Sun Pointe Apartments are advancing after the housing agency in July was awarded $12.3 million in federal tax credits that will be sold to investors next year to help fund the project.

The vacant Roosevelt low-income public housing complex at 4647 Maxwell St., in Northeast El Paso, is to be renovated by El Paso's public housing agency and renamed Sun Pointe Apartments.

Pennrose Properties, a Philadelphia development company, was hired to develop the project for the housing agency.

Sun Pointe’s vacant, boarded-up, white-brick apartment buildings, surrounded by a black wrought-iron fence, are located between Maxwell Street and a busy commercial section of Hondo Pass Drive. 

It’s in a poor neighborhood filled with mostly low-income apartment buildings, some of them in a run-down state. Shopping centers are just across the street from the complex’s Hondo Pass entrance. A Walmart Neighborhood Market is near the edge of the complex.

The 146 apartments spread throughout several buildings will include 26 one-bedroom, 76 two-bedroom and 44 three-bedroom units. One building will be demolished.

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Other renovation projects

HOME, El Paso's public housing agency, has several other vacant properties slated for renovation:

Machuca Apartments (new name: El Cerrito):  9.6 acres, 146 units; 1039 JC Machuca Drive, in West El Paso; cost: $20 million; tentative start date: June 2022.

Pooley Apartments: High rise on 1.4 acres, 123 units; 201 Cortez Drive, in South-Central El Paso; cost: $20 million; tentative start date: June 2022.

Siesta Gardens (new name: The Refuge): 2.3 acres, 22 units of modular housing to be built with metal freight containers; 9009 Dyer St., in Northeast El Paso; cost: $3 million; tentative start date: Late 2021

Old Gonzalez homes: 9.7 acres, 36 single-family homes; between Carl Longuemare and Socorro roads in the Lower Valley; cost: $2 million; no start date set.

Henry Cisneros homes:  4.2 acres, 16 single-family homes; 5200 Lou Brock Place in Northeast El Paso; cost: $1 million; tentative start date: Late 2021.

Vic Kolenc may be reached at 546-6421; on Twitter.