El Paso Taps Hunt Cos. for Mixed-Use Project

The City of El Paso has selected Hunt Cos., through its affiliate Hunt Metro 31, to develop a 31-acre TOD. The development will be at the site of the former Northpark Mall in northeast El Paso, at the meeting of Dyer St. and Diana Dr.

El Paso, Texas—The City of El Paso has selected Hunt Cos. Inc., through its affiliate Hunt Metro 31 LLC, to develop a 31-acre TOD. The development will be at the site of the former Northpark Mall in northeast El Paso, at the meeting of Dyer St. and Diana Dr.

Originally Northgate Shopping Center, the mall opened in 1960 as the largest shopping center in El Paso and the first with a sizable parking lot. But by around 2000, competition from newer regional malls and a failure to update the property had virtually killed it as an ongoing concern.

In 2010, the City of El Paso purchased the property and demolished the Northpark Mall complex. The site remained vacant while the city formulated redevelopment priorities and then solicited competitive offers from developers to recover the public investment.

The new project, called Metro 31, will consist of 325 units of apartments, 80 units of affordable seniors housing, and 48 live/work units featuring open floor plans and resort-style amenities. Integrated into the project will be Sun Metro’s BRIO station for northeast bus rapid transit, with covered parking for commuters and a transit plaza offering transfers to regional destinations. In addition, the project will include about 135,000 square feet of retail space anchored by a grocery store and as much as 100,000 square feet of office space.

The development’s design is organized along “activated pedestrian roadways,” featuring shaded walkways, on-street parking and wide sidewalks with outdoor seating areas for food and beverage establishments. Parks and plazas will be sprinkled throughout, including a central square along with parking for the residents, retail customers and transit riders in accessible street, surface and garage conditions.

The site is currently bordered on two sides with open drainage channels, which will be converted into landscaped urban arroyos with trail access for pedestrians. The development will also includes various water management elements appropriate to the arid climate, such as storm water harvesting from roofs and garages and cistern storage for irrigation, and pervious paving for groundwater recharge.

Metro 31 will employ SmartCode development and is the second project in the city to do so. Smart Code is stricter than standard zoning in many ways, regulating the location, shape and size of buildings and yards more precisely. It also requires neighborhoods to mix different types of development within quarter-mile sheds.