The historic Abdou Building in Downtown El Paso has a lot going for it. It is centrally located and has easy access to public transportation, shopping and growing Downtown attractions. But it needs work.
That’s why the young investors who bought the old, seven-story building late last year are moving forward with renovations – inside and out.
And on Sept. 11, the city Historic Landmark Commission approved the group’s plans, which include luxury apartments inside and new white paint for the building’s exterior.
“As permits were just released to us, it’s imperative we begin as promptly as possible not only to give the tenants a place they are proud to live and work but also to enhance the property and the overall aesthetics of Downtown El Paso,” said Benjamin Marcus, one of the partners behind the building’s restoration.
The refurbished apartments would rent for around $2,500 a month, a new high for Downtown El Paso where a revitalization effort is underway.
Marcus, the son of longtime El Paso retail developer Meyer Marcus, is renovating the building with his sisters Mila and Shea Marcus, as well as J. W. Rogers, who is the grandson of former El Paso Mayor Jonathan Rogers, and Tyson Carameros, who works with his father’s real estate company, L&M Asset Management.
The 106-year-old building was designed by famous Southwest architect Henry Trost in 1909 and is located in the Downtown Historic District. But it was once listed as one of the 12 most endangered buildings in Downtown by the County Historical Commission.
“I think it is great that (they are) moving forward with the renovation of the Abdou Building and working with Bill Helm of In Situ Architecture on the preservation of the building’s exterior,” said Daniel Carey-Whalen, chair of the commission.
During a tour of the building, Marcus and Carameros showed El Paso Inc. the five, three-room and two-bathroom suites that will be available to tenants at around $2,500 a month.
Carameros said it may seem expensive, but the apartments are 2,000 square feet and have 360-degree views of the city.
“We have such large floor plans and such high-end finishes it’s really not an apartment type finish,” Carameros said. “It’s really more of a high-end condo type feeling.”
The rooms have been painted white, and the designs are contemporary. But the group is maintaining some of the building’s historic features, including hinges, doorknobs and the marble staircase. They have installed a new elevator in the building.
Marcus said the renovations have been costly but worth the investment.
The building, located at 115 N. Mesa, sits between Downtown’s bustling office district and busy retail areas. It is home to a number of stores, including a shoe repair shop and photography service.
The building has not seen any major renovations since the mid-1960s and is also in need of plumbing, mechanical and electrical work.
The group’s decision to raise rents, which caused a number of tenants to move out of the building, has raised concerns among some.
“We told (tenants) our intent was to not kick anyone out,” Carameros said. “We had a long road ahead of us to get our permits and approval from the historic commission. Of course, people got the jitters.”
Email El Paso Inc. reporter Aaron Montes at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (915) 534-4422, ext. 105. and (915) 777-4154. Twitter: @aaronmontes91