(Excerpted from the El Paso Times, April 3, 2011, by Leanne Hedrick)
The hip, industrial coolness of living La Vida Urbana complete with exposed brick walls, concrete floors and chrome kitchen appliances has made its way to El Paso. And developers are banking on the idea that an option for Downtown living will attract the type of buyer who enjoys being able to walk to work, grocery stores, museums and restaurants.
The building [at 300 S. Florence], originally a Trost & Trost design built in 1925, was converted into a 4,000-plus-square-foot mixed use retail-residential building, including covered parking, a rooftop terrace and storage units in the basement.
The [Karam] brothers formed their company, the El Paso Project LLC in 2008, specifically to start work on creating urban living spaces. Then they teamed up with architecture firm Wright & Dalbin, GECU for construction financing and Jorge Villegas, owner of Cumbre Builders.
Down the street at of Florence and Overland is another condo project inside Union Fashion Plaza. Also designed by Wright & Dalbin Architects and originally developed by then-owner Enoch Kimmelman, the building sold to National Stores Inc. -- the parent company of Fallas Paredes discount stores -- several years ago.
The four-story building houses executive lofts on the top three floors, and retail fills the street-level space. Ten-foot-high ceilings, eight-foot-high wood entry doors and large windows are the primary features. Intended for use as executive lofts, the interiors are different from the exposed brick and concrete that's popular in urban settings, but gives buyers a different set of choices.