EL PASO, TX - Until recently, Lydia Palacios could not remember the last time she had been downtown.
A lifelong El Paso resident, Palacios said downtown was more a childhood memory than a current event.
On her way to a doctor’s appointment on a recent Monday in June, Palacios said she and her husband, Sergio, were doing something they had not done in many years – lunching together downtown.“My father would take us on the bus downtown and take us to Kress to eat lunch,” said Palacios referring to S.H. Kress & Co., the five-and-dime with a lunch counter on the northwest corner of North Oregon Street and Mills Avenue.
The two sat at an umbrella-covered table waiting for the fish tacos they had ordered from The Reef Mobile Kitchen, a food truck on Mills Street that serves seafood Mexican fare. The couple said they were intrigued by the various developments and events that are reshaping the city center, including concerts at the Civic Center on Friday nights, the newly opened Southwest University Ball Park, and the nearly 2-year-old food park where they were lunching.
Their reaction is exactly what real estate entrepreneur Lane Gaddy was hoping for when he got the idea to turn a downtown parking lot he owned into Foodville, a food truck park.“They are reviving downtown,” Lydia Palacios said. “They are doing more, and I am coming more.”
“I was able to travel and see what other cities were doing for both downtown revitalization and get ideas behind tactical urbanism,” said Gaddy, 31, who looked at Austin, Portland and Dallas before determining that his parking lot might work well for food trucks in El Paso.
“It seems a much better use than a semi-functional parking lot, which is what it was when we bought it,” said Gaddy.
Launched in November 2012, the Foodville Truck Park opened as the city’s only dedicated downtown food truck park.
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