The collection of historic but dilapidated Downtown buildings that William “Billy” Abraham has been holding onto for years is now at risk of being sold off.
Six of Abraham’s Downtown properties, including the Toltec, Caples and Newberry buildings, are scheduled to be sold to the highest bidder to settle debts and judgments at the county courthouse Feb. 6.
Two auctions are scheduled that day, and 11 Abraham properties are involved in both, starting with a foreclosure sale on the Toltec Building, and two other properties Abraham owns.
Barring legal action to stop the sale of the Toltec Building and two other properties, they would likely go first at a foreclosure sale brought by Isha Rogers and Steve Santamaria.
Through Olive Corp., they bought a delinquent loan on the Toltec Building, an Upper Valley farm property and a Westside house that was held by Charles Haddad. They then filed to foreclose.
Rogers and Santamaria took the same steps last year to acquire the historic railroad depot at 420 N. Campbell.
Victor Firth, the lawyer for Rogers and Santamaria, will handle the Feb. 6 sale of three properties. Abraham went to court in December to stop a Jan. 2 sale of those properties.
The temporary restraining order Abraham obtained has since expired without a court hearing, and Abraham has taken no further action to block the sale, Firth said.
Once those properties are sold, barring legal action, the remaining eight properties will go on the block at the sheriff’s sale to settle a $1 million debt Abraham owes Ivan Aguilera, the son of the late Juan Gabriel, for his 2015 concert in El Paso.
“Our sale is based on a writ of execution of the judgment that we have against Mr. Abraham,” Aguilera’s El Paso attorney, Mike Shane, said. “What I anticipate is that Mr. Firth will do his sale first.”
“We’ll then move forward with the sheriff’s sale on the other eight.”
Most, if not all, of the properties have other liens on them for back taxes and child support, and those debts would be settled first before the Aguilera debt is repaid.
Shane said if his client’s debt and prior liens are satisfied before all of the buildings up for sale are auctioned, the sale of any remaining properties would be stopped.
But, he said, anyone who picks up a property at a sheriff’s sale becomes responsible for remaining liens on the properties.
Abraham has long owned some of El Paso’s most visible and historic Downtown structures, and if the sales go forward, it would make properties available to investors that have been off the market for years.
Some of the buildings are dilapidated, and over the years, the city has filed a number of enforcement actions against Abraham for code violations.
The $1 million debt to Aguilera and his company, IGSFA, stems from the Juan Gabriel concert that Abraham’s promotions company, Abraham Presents, brought to El Paso in 2015.
But Abraham never paid Gabriel for his performance.
Gabriel was close to the Abraham family, and Billy Abraham has told El Paso Inc. that Gabriel wanted to gift the concert to them as an expression of appreciation for legal work the late Joseph “Sib” Abraham did for him over the years.
But Gabriel died in August 2016 without putting that wish in writing, leaving behind a contract for payment that Aguilera took to a Florida court last year and won a judgment requiring payment of the concert debt.
That action has been moved to an El Paso County district court and validated for collection in Texas.
The properties scheduled for that sale include three historic structures: the Toltec Building, Caples Building and J.J. Newberry Building.
The Caples Building was designed by prominent Southwest architect Henry Trost in 1909 for former El Paso mayor Richard Caples. Built in 1909, the seven-story building was the first reinforced concrete structure in El Paso.
During the Mexican Revolution, the building housed offices of many Mexican political figures and revolutionary leaders. President Francisco Madero made it the headquarters for his provisional government.
Email El Paso Inc. reporter David Crowder at email@example.com or call (915) 534-4422, ext. 122 and (915) 630-6622.