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El Paso Downtown revitalization: Mulligan Building's major makeover almost done [El Paso Times, Texas :: ]
[March 09, 2014]

El Paso Downtown revitalization: Mulligan Building's major makeover almost done [El Paso Times, Texas :: ]

(El Paso Times (TX) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) March 09--More than a facelift, the Mulligan Building's renovation is an extreme makeover showcasing some of its nearly 100-year-old features.

"It's a completely different building than what was hidden behind the old facade," said Scott Gilliland, an architect in the city's Engineering and Construction Management Department overseeing the building's renovation. "We've worked to carefully remove its old facade and restore some of its original features." That old false facade was bland, beige brick with narrow windows covering the concrete frame warehouse that for years sat vacant at the corner of Campbell Street and Mills Avenue Downtown.

The 73,000-square-foot, five-story Mulligan Building now has a red brick and beige concrete exterior with some of its original architectural details. It has large windows, glass doors, awnings and an overall brighter look.

Originally built as a storage facility and dispensary for the U.S. military in 1915, the Mulligan Building's makeover comes after the city last year demolished the former City Hall building and moved half its employees to temporary offices citywide.

The $13.7 million makeover is expected to be completed in about a month, and city employees in the Information Technology and Engineering Departments, among others, will be moved in by the end of April. Gilliland said the makeover is slightly under budget so far.

The building will also have two storefronts, which will be leased for retail businesses, or a coffee shop or small restaurant.

It's across the street from the new City Hall building and a few blocks from the old Galeria San Ysidro on Texas Avenue that's being remodeled to house other city departments, such as Parks and Recreation and City Development.

The Mulligan Building is not protected with any historic designations, but is certainly a part of El Paso's great architectural and cultural history. It was originally named the Mulligan Fireproof Storage Building, after the famed architect who designed it, John "Jack" Mulligan. He died in 1930 at the age of 72.

It was later changed to the Luther Building after being bought by the Luther Moving and Storage Company in the 1940s. The building later housed the El Paso Natural Gas Company, but had been vacant since the mid-1980s.

Western Refining executive Paul Foster, who is also part-owner of the El Paso Chihuahuas Triple-A baseball team, bought the building in 2007 and donated it to the city last year. The city then changed the building's name back to Mulligan.

"We were able to salvage or restore a lot of the brick and details in the exterior and restored the windows to the original sizes," said architect William Helm, founder of In Situ Architecture, which is working to transform the building for the city. "It's a lot truer to its original design." Inside, exposed ceilings and polished concrete floors give it an industrial look. The top floor has skylights, and the first floor has a service garage and electric car stations. It has a new staircase, mail room, elevators, restrooms and lobby spaces, and has been retrofitted with new utility connections.

Every floor is different in height, Helm said, because they were built according to what materials were available at the time.

"That's one of the quirks of the building," Helm said during a recent tour of the makeover. "It has many." Cindy Ramirez may be reached at 546-6151.

___ (c)2014 the El Paso Times (El Paso, Texas) Visit the El Paso Times (El Paso, Texas) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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