Duranguito demolition begins despite court order

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) - Update (2:10 p.m.) El Paso City Council Representative Cissy Lizarraga issued a statement following her visit to the Duranguito neighborhood Tuesday morning.

Lizarraga says she was invited to the area by El Paso County Commissioner David Stout.  Lizarraga says when she saw the Flor de Luna house at 300 W. Overland, she was "surprised and saddened to see the face of the building destroyed." 

She went on to say that the City of El Paso should do more than rely on the courts or apologize for any misunderstanding.  Lizarraga says she has "introduced an agenda item to formalize the immediate revocation of any existing demolition permits and a moratorium on the issuance of new demolition permits in the MPC footprint area and the Duranguito neighborhood of District 8."


Update (11:25 a.m.): El Paso Mayor Dee Margo sent NewsChannel 9 a statement saying the City did not initiate the demolition.

The statement reads, in part: "The series of events regarding the arena has been unfortunate... The City does not yet own or control the properties within the MPC footprint, and did not initiate the demolition scheduled for September 12. The City will continue to comply with the law regarding the MPC."


Update (11:15 a.m.): According to court documents, the City of El Paso was ordered to cease and desist all efforts to demolish the following properties: 215 W. Paisano, 216 W. Overland, 220 W. Overland, 305 Chihuahua, 308 Chihuahua, 309 Chihuahua, 312 Chihuahua and 315 Chihuahua.

NewsChannel 9 has been able to visually confirm the following have sustained structural damage due to demolition: 305 Chihuahua, 308 Chihuahua, 309 Chihuahua, 312 Chihuahua and 315 Chihuahua.


Update (11:00 a.m.): Max Grossman, longtime supporter of the preservation of the Duranguito neighborhood, says more than a half-dozen buildings were gravely damaged.

"Make no mistake about it. The City of El Paso and the two property owners, Dr. Roberto Assael and Alejo Restrepo, have violated a court order signed by all three judges of the 8th Court of Appeals.  The demolition action this morning was a blatant act of cowardice and a violation of the law."


Update (10:21 a.m.): The City of El Paso released a statement saying the City is complying with the Order issued the the 8th Court of Appeals, which prohibits the City from taking steps related to the demolition.  The City says the City Attorney's Office Monday night contacted the attorney representing the property owners and requested they comply with the order and not proceed with the demolition.


Construction crews began tearing down buildings in the Duranguito neighborhood Tuesday morning, despite an injunction order from the 8th Court of Appeals.

NewsChannel9 was the first to show the cornerstones of at least two buildings damaged through our Facebook Live feed. (You can follow us on here: https://www.facebook.com/NewsChannel9ElPaso/)

El Paso Police were called to the neighborhood around 8 a.m. According to NewsChannel 9 crews at the scene, the officers are there for crowd control.

A spokesperson for Paso del Sur, a group that has been the driving force behind saving the buildings, a miscommunication between construction crews led to the demolition Tuesday morning.  They say when the injunction came down Monday night, the evening construction crew was told not to move forward, but the construction crew that showed up Tuesday morning did not get the message.

Building inspectors have been called to the area to assess the damaged buildings, as some fear the buildings are now structurally unstable and have the potential to fall. City planning and inspections personnel are also in the area.

Look for more updates on this story as it continues to develop.





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