Economic Development Corp eyes finished and potential projects

It appears that a vehicle ran off the road causing significant damage to a wooden fence behind the Mercado building. (VHA-Photo/SC)
It appears that a vehicle ran off the road causing significant damage to a wooden fence behind the Mercado building. (VHA-Photo/SC)

By Shanna Cummings

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The Van Horn Economic Development Corporation (VHEDC) board looked to one completed project during the Jan 20 meeting, and discussed possible future endeavors to attract tourism, businesses and jobs to Van Horn.

Construction of the pool building is done, and the pool renovation project itself is near completion after several months of hiatus during COVID lockdown. The pool should be ready for use this summer, but ongoing restrictions may prevent official opening.

The board accepted site plans provided by Arvind Gandhi and Van Horn Maruti, LCC for a four-story Best Western Plus hotel to be built next to the Department of Public Safety building. The plans now go on to Town of Van Horn engineers for review. The hotel will add at least 20 new jobs to the area, once completed, Gandhi said.

But that may not be for some time, as Van Horn continues a moratorium on some development while it tackles water infrastructure issues. VHEDC president Becky Brewster said during the meeting that the City is waiting on the results of the United States Economic Development Administration (USEDA) grant that would fund water infrastructure improvements. “It’s a strong application,” Brewster said. “It just depends on how it stacks up to all the other applications out there.”

An application for the Economic Development Administration CARES Act Recovery Assistance has also been submitted. Funds from this source would be used for economic recovery from the ongoing COVID crisis.

The board also accepted a proposal by EPG Planning Consultants for downtown Van Horn revitalization, focusing on the parking lot next to El Capitan hotel that currently features the colorful Van Horn mural. The goal is to turn the existing parking lot, which doesn’t receive much use, into an urban garden-type space resembling the courtyard of El Capitan hotel in order to draw tourism and provide space for potential food trucks. Phase One of the project would include schematics and designs for the space, and will cost $7,500. The board will be involved in envisioning the space design through all phases of the project, should it proceed.

Finally, the board discussed other possible projects for revitalizing the downtown area, including the Mercado building. A recent incident tore down one side of the Mercado building’s back fence. The board discussed possible, more permanent solutions to the wooden picket back fence, including a cinderblock wall with graphics or paintings, as well as security lighting in that area to prevent future incidents. The Mercado does not have regular outside lighting unless the building is in use.