Amazon, part two?
Great Wolf may be gone, but Amazon may be ready to make a second major investment in El Paso.
That’s the word on the streets of Northwest El Paso, where Great Wolf Lodge pulled out of a deal to build one of its big indoor water parks on a 43-acre site near Interstate 10 and Paseo del Norte.
Rumor has it that Amazon will build a same-day fulfillment center on the land. Many larger cities have Amazon centers that can deliver orders within hours, but it would be a first such project for El Paso.
As loyal readers know, Amazon is getting close to completion of its humongous, 3-million-square-foot fulfillment center on El Paso’s far Eastside.
City Council has discussed selling the Northwest property to VTRE Development for $18.6 million, with a provision that the buyer pay $600,000 for a traffic signal at the already very busy intersection of Paseo del Norte and North Desert Boulevard.
VanTrust, VTRE’s development division, has constructed Amazon fulfillment center in cities like Las Vegas. The company is based in Kansas City.
Nobody is talking on the record about the deal, or the economic incentives that may be part of it, but the land sale is likely to come up before City Council this week. Stay tuned.
Born and raised in El Paso, he started his career on the border, and soon his genius for retail and marketing made him a success in the centers of power and money across the country.
Amen Wardy died Feb. 18 at his home outside of Aspen, Colorado. He was 81.
In 1954, Wardy dropped out of high school to sell costume jewelry and women’s clothing in his family’s store on the border. When he opened an elegant, upscale boutique in the old Zach White mansion on North Mesa, women from El Paso and across the state came to buy his luxury goods.
Soon he had glittering shops in Texas, Beverly Hills and Newport Beach, California, where he dressed royalty, socialites and celebrities. One of his first clients was Joan Rivers.
According to an interview in the Aspen Times, Rivers needed help dressing for her new late-night talk show in 1986, and Wardy supplied her wardrobe. They formed a close friendship, and Rivers made the best-dressed list that year.
Other names on Wardy’s client list included Barbra Streisand, Carol Burnett, Leona Helmsley, Diahann Carroll and Joan Collins.
In 1983, when The New York Times ran an article about very popular and very glitzy evening dresses by designer James Galanos, it noted that two of them were available at Amen Wardy’s Newport Beach store. Both were priced at more than $10,000.
In the 1990s, Wardy transitioned into luxury home furnishings and gifts, with stores in Aspen, Dallas, Las Vegas, Boston, Scottsdale, Palm Beach, Palm Desert and Santa Fe. His family says he was still in his Aspen store seven days a week before the pandemic began.
Wardy was known for his sense of humor, enthusiasm and handing out candy to customers in his stores. He is survived by his partner Bob Hightower, sister Joann Wardy, former wife Lorraine Wardy, daughter Soffia Wardy, who worked with him in his Aspen store, sons Amen Wardy III and Jean Paul Wardy, and five grandchildren. Family members gathered in Aspen last week to honor his memory. They say his Aspen store will remain open.
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