153-room Hilton Hotel may be built next to UTEP

By Darren Meritz, El Paso Times
El Paso Times
November 5, 2004 Friday

The University of Texas at El Paso may soon lease land to a company that will build a hotel on campus at University Avenue and Oregon Street. Up for approval at this week's UT Board of Regents meeting is whether the university can lease land for a five-story, 153-room Hilton Garden Inn, to be created by Mitchell Carlson Stone Architects of Houston.

The hotel is expected to match the Bhutanese architecture seen throughout the UTEP campus and would generate revenue for the university through lease payments.

"The university hosts several conferences every year, and the hotel would be close enough for the conference attendees to stay there," said Greg McNicol, associate vice president for facilities management at UTEP. "The benefits that will come out of this will be for the university and the El Paso community."

The hotel is also expected to have two boardrooms, a 2,200-square-foot ballroom, a 770-square-foot exercise center and a pool, a full-service restaurant and a parking garage with 162 spaces.

If the project is approved, construction is scheduled to begin by the end of this year. The hotel would probably accommodate university-sponsored conferences and meetings, alumni and out-of-town guests, as well as provide rooms and services for the nearby medical centers.

McNicol said two market analyses determined the feasibility of the hotel. Cindy Ramos-Davidson, president of the El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, said the development is likely to bode well in El Paso because hotels that can attract tourism and business development are sorely needed here.

"I think it's innovative on the part of leaders of the university," Ramos-Davidson said. "It's a great idea to do it up there (West Side) because there's a lot of development."

The hotel would be able not only to draw business from the university but also to provide work for small businesses and create needed jobs, she said.

"We love a lot of economic development activity," Ramos-Davidson said.