The moribund mall was knocked down in late 2011. A section of the site was utilized for the Northgate Transfer Center depicted above. The 11 million dollar bus transit facility opened in May 2018.
Original drawing from (City of El Paso Sun Metro)

The Transfer Center is the northern terminus on the 10.2-route-mile Dyer Corridor, one of four routes on the Sun Metro BRIO. This bus rapid transit system uses rubber-tired rolling stock, which operate over surface street routes. With completion of the initial network in 2020, the BRIO stretched for 50.1 route miles and serviced ninety-eight station stops.
Photo from (City of El Paso Sun Metro) 

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 and studio 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 DeWitt & Rearick Realty, the single level, open-air mall was designed by the local Nesmith & Lane Associates firm. The first three NORTHGATE tenants, Gunning-Casteel Rexall, Aaronson Brothers apparel and an (18,500 square foot) Safeway supermarket, opened for business on April 14, 1960.

These were joined by a 1-level (30,000 square foot) J.C. Penney on August 3, 1960 and (21,800 square foot) S.S. Kresge on September 19. By November of the same 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 3 million dollar shopping hub had thirty-two retail spaces and encompassed approximately 300,000 leasable square feet.

Charter tenants included Leeds Qualicraft Shoes, The Toy Box, Thom McAn Shoes, 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 Interstate Theatres Northgate Theatre, was dedicated on 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 (52,500 square foot) anchor store to the east end of the complex. This store -the chain's second branch- held its grand opening on August 1, 1966. NORTHGATE CENTER now encompassed around 390,000 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. The mall began to decline. 

A face lift was finally completed in November 1981, with mall roofs repaired, canopies rebuilt and parking areas repaved. Eleven new stores joined the directory. Bealls apparel set up shop, in a vacant S.S. Kresge, on September 8, 1981. Safeway had also been shuttered. Its building was divided into four spaces, with one being configured as a (10,200 square foot) Chuck E. Cheese's Pizza Time Theater. This venue opened on November 23, 1981.

El Paso's Recon Real Estate purchased the mall in April 1986. A 15 million dollar renovation was announced, with the open shopping concourse to be enclosed and climate-controlled. This was never carried out. An exterior face lift did add Spanish Adobe design elements and twenty-one new stores.

Popular Dry Goods built a 1-level (51,800 square foot) anchor on the west end of the complex, with the original Popular re-opening as a (Furrs) Food Emporium. The revitalized, open-air shopping hub was re-dedicated on November 17, 1988. As part of its renewal, the complex was renamed NORTHPARK MALL.

The renovation had been done at the same time that a major rival was being completed. SUNLAND PARK MALL {8.3 miles southwest, in El Paso} was dedicated in August 1988. NORTHPARK was soon in a second downward spiral. Eventually, its nationally-known stores would close and be replaced by mom & pop-type tenants...or vacant space. A succession of owners would defer maintenance, leaving the center to deteriorate.

By the turn of the century, the original cinema, which had been divided into a 2-screen venue in June 1978, was vacant. J.C. Penney's space was leased briefly as a natural history museum. The Popular store was shuttered on November 6, 1995. (Furrs) Food Emporium closed on August 7, 2001.

Furniture Factory Warehouse opened, in the vacant (west end) Popular space, 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. Two outparcels, Walgreen Drug and KFC, had been built in the northwest parking area in 2003.

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 northern terminus on the city's Sun Metro BRIO bus rapid transit network, would occupy 6 acres of the site. This facility commenced operation on May 30, 2018.

Meanwhile, revenue service had started on the 8.6-route-mile Mesa Corridor. This was the first operational segment of the Sun Metro Brio system. The 10.2-route-mile Dyer Corridor, extending between downtown El Paso and the Northgate Transfer Center, commenced operation in 2019.


The El Paso Times
The El Paso Post-Herald / Aaron Bracomontes Branch Store.doc
Malls of America Blogspot / Keith Milford webmaster / Mike Rivest