Ground was broken in August 2016 for the Northgate Transfer Center project. This will be a station stop on the 12-route-mile Dyer BRIO bus rapid transit line also under construction. The 11 million dollar Transfer Center is being built on land where NORTHGATE CENTER once stood.
Original drawing from www.sunmetro.net (City of El Paso Sun Metro)


The Transfer Center will be a terminal for a new route on El Paso's Sun Metro BRIO. This bus rapid transit system uses rolling stock, which operate over fixed -surface street- routes and service a network of stations stops.
Photo from www.sunmetro.net (City of El Paso Sun Metro) 


NORTHGATE CENTER
Dyer Street / US 54 and Wren Avenue
El Paso, Texas

The Sun City's first shopping mall was built on a 23 acre parcel, situated 8.6 miles northeast of the El Paso Central Business District. The broadcast towers of radio station KROD were relocated from the site in late 1958, as construction commenced on the new NORTHGATE CENTER. Developed by El Paso's T. J. Cottle, the single level, open-air mall was designed by the local Nesmith & Lane firm.

The first three NORTHGATE tenants, Gunning Casteel Rexall, Aaronson Brothers and a Safeway supermarket, opened for business April 14, 1960. These were joined by a 1-level (27,800 square foot) J.C. Penney on August 2, 1960 and (21,800 square foot) S.S. Kresge on August 4, 1960.

By November of the year, White Stores had opened a NORTHGATE location. Not to be confused with El Paso's White House department stores, the White Stores chain was based in Wichita Falls, Texas. Its stores carried a line of home and auto merchandise and were similar to a Western Auto.

Additional stores and services opened at NORTHGATE CENTER over the following 2 years. By April 1963, the shopping hub had thirty-one retail spaces and encompassed 250,000 leasable square feet. A short listing of charter tenants would include Singer Sewing Center, Wyatt's Cafeteria, Little Hawaii Beauty Salon, Sherwin-Williams Paints and a 150-seat Community Hall.

The mall's first cinematic venue, the Northgate Theatre, was dedicated June 24, 1966. Originally a single-screen house, it was built as a southwestern outparcel. El Paso's Popular Dry Goods added a 1-level (57,100 square foot) anchor store to the east end of the complex. This store -the chain's second branch- held its grand opening August 1, 1966. With its new Popular store, NORTHGATE CENTER encompassed 315,000 leasable square feet.

For 12 years, the Sun City and its environs were served by just two shopping malls; NORTHGATE and BASSETT CENTER (1962) {6.4 miles south, in El Paso}. CIELO VISTA MALL {7.3 miles southeast, in El Paso} opened -as the region's first fully-enclosed shopping venue- in November 1974. As a reaction, BASSETT CENTER was already being roofed-in. However, the owners of NORTHGATE CENTER, Tulsa's Frates Properties, did nothing.  

In fact, the mall would not be updated until El Paso's Recon Real Estate purchased it in 1985. An 11 million dollar renovation -including an enclosure of the structure- was announced...but was not fully carried out. An exterior facelift added a few Adobe design touches and twenty-one new stores were recruited.

It is also likely that a 1-level (51,800 square foot) anchor store was added to the west end of the complex at this time, taking the place of the Safeway supermarket. As a facet of the renewal of the (still) open-air shopping hub, its official name was changed to NORTHPARK MALL in November 1988.

However, another retail rival had come on the scene. SUNLAND PARK MALL {8.3 miles southwest, in El Paso} had been dedicated in August 1988.

NORTHGATE / NORTHPARK was in a downward spiral by this time, that even its recent renovation could not curtail. Eventually, its nationally known stores would close and mom & pop type tenants would take up shop. A succession of owners would defer maintenance, leaving the center to deteriorate as the years passed.

Dallas-based Woodmont Property Management bought the struggling complex in 1996, but did nothing much other than change its name to NORTHGATE MALL.

By the turn of the century, the cinema, which had been divided into a 4-screen venue, was vacant. J.C. Penney's space was leased briefly as a natural history museum. The Popular store, shuttered November 6, 1995, became a Furr's Emporium supermarket. This closed August 7, 2001. The building was never retenanted.

On the opposite end of NORTHGATE MALL, a Furniture Factory Warehouse opened in March 2005. In April 2007, Torreon, Mexico's T Group assumed management of the center. By 2010 Furniture Factory Warehouse, an Allstate Insurance agency and Crystal Ballroom dance hall were the only operational tenants in the mall proper. Two outparcels, Walgreen Drug and KFC, had been built in the northwest parking area.

The delapidated and virtually vacant shopping center was sold to the City of El Paso in September 2010. Demolition commenced in September 2011 and continued until February 2012. Only Walgeen's and KFC were left standing.

In the fall of 2013, a redevelopment of the site was proposed. A regional farmers market, 130,000 square feet of inline retail and several hundred residential units would be built as part of the Metro 31 mixed-use project. The Northgate Transfer Center, a station stop on the city's Sun Metro BRIO bus rapid transit network, would occupy 7.5 acres of the site.

The 8.6-route-mile Mesa Corridor, the first operational segment of the Sun Metro Brio system, began revenue service October 27, 2014. The 12-route-mile Dyer Corridor, extending to the Northgate Transfer Center, should be in operation by late 2017.

Sources:

preservenet.cornell.edu/publications/Longstreth Branch Store.doc
Malls of America Blogspot / Keith Milford webmaster
The El Paso Times
The El Paso Post-Herald / Aaron Bracomontes
www.constructionreporter.com
www.cinematreasures.org
www.sunmetro.net