Over the last decade, Arkansas Tech administration purchased a dozen properties that a line El Paso Avenue, in anticipation for the right time to put the properties into good use for the Tech and Russellville communities.
The properties purchased are scattered along West L Street, North Denver, North Arkansas Ave and El Paso Avenue.
The earliest purchase was a residential property on West L Street in 2003, which now serves as the Campus Life Outdoor Recreation Center.
Ms. Bernadette Hinkle, vice president for administration and finance, said that the university’s existing property along El Paso and the adjacent neighborhood mainly serves as offices and storage spaces.
Of the 12 locations, two are residential properties that currently being used as office space for e-Tech and Information Systems. Two buildings being used as a hybrid of storage and office space. A laundromat on El Paso Avenue also currently serves as miscellaneous storage.
The remaining properties already have proposed uses. It has been proposed that residential real estate on North Arkansas Ave serve as lab space for the gaming program. The Oak Tree Bistro on North Arkansas Ave will serve as the Green and Gold Food Pantry, facilitated by the behavioral sciences organization Because We Can.
Kendall Tubb, co-founder of Because We Can, said that members are expecting the food pantry to be up and functioning by August of 2017 after some much needed renovations.
Taco Villa on El Paso Avenue, now property of the university, is the central location for the ‘”Experience El Paso” movement and “The Corner” event on football game days. “The Corner” has been dubbed a block party held at every home game. Those are also hosted by Because We Can.
On game days, Taco Villa’s parking lot is filled with food trucks, live music and games for Wonder Boy fans to enjoy.
“It is my hope that our campus will have more student-centered venues, restaurants, retail spaces and mixed-use purpose facilities nearby,” Hinkle said. “I look forward to the development on El Paso to strengthen our community and to bridge our campus to downtown in a meaningful way.”
Students and members of the community can share their ideas for what they would like to see on El Paso by using the hashtag #experienceelpaso (all lower case) on Twitter and Instagram. Users can take a photo of vacant lots or building and visually share their ideas with administration and community leaders.