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MIXing residence with commercial life

Michaela Roman / The Prospector
The Mix is located at 516 San Antonio Ave., and it formerly has 14 new apartments on the top floor and 7,500 square feet of retail and office-studio spaces on the ground floor. For more information about prices call 726-3795.

Rising out of rubble is a shapeless mass made out of metallic beams. It’s being molded by men wearing yellow hard hats into the new baseball stadium. Only a block away, a new building has also risen from the rubble. The building is called The Mix, which is a refurbished $1.5 million project.

The Mix, much like it’s name, blends business and residential spaces. On the first floor, it houses eight commercial spaces, while the second floor has 14 apartments.

The Mix is located in one of the most popular entertainment districts in El Paso, the Union Plaza. It resides among shops, restaurants, bars and clubs that are heavily frequented by UTEP students during the weekend.

“My friends go there like twice every month,” said Lilly Martinez, sophomore psychology major.

Part of the allure of The Mix is not just the convenience it provides to its tenants, but its modern edginess. As you enter the building, contemporary art is found everywhere from the installation of two bikes atop each other, to a giant cowhide piece hanging over a bench in the entryway.

Wooden floors, brick walls, wide-open spaces and simple straight lines of its architecture add to its edge. At the doors to the apartment section of The Mix is a giant green octopus with a smile. It is one of many pieces of artwork that may be found throughout the complex. The pieces of art were created by UTEP alumni and graphic designers Joel and Iris Martinez, whose studio is one of the businesses located at the Mix.

The building opened two years ago and was instantly successful, said Octavio Gomez, owner of The Mix.

“It leased out in three days and that was through no advertising other than word of mouth and through social media” Gomez said. “We don’t last more than a week or two with an empty apartment.”

Gomez is a young El Paso entrepreneur, who earned his economics degree from UTEP in 2003.

He is also the owner of the 1914 Lounge, Breaking Motor, La Tabla, Chaos and The Garden and was described by the DWNTWN insider as “the creative business force behind Crave Kitchen.”

Gomez was inspired to open his businesses when he was driving through Downtown one day.

“Since I was in high school I wanted to do my part of Downtown revitalization…I saw they were putting the sign up on the building that I bought that is now 1914, and then I just bought the building,” Gomez said.

In order to renovate The Mix, Gomez received a $25,000 façade grant from the District Management Fund.

“El Paso has so much opportunity… anybody can make a difference in this city,” he said. “If you have a good idea you can follow through and make it happen and have an impact on the way the city grows.”

The District Management Fund’s main priority is making Downtown El Paso the center of commerce, civic and cultural diversity, according to Rudy Vasquez, marketing and public relations manager for the DMF.

“We’re pretty much committed to revitalization and economic growth,” Vasquez said.

The Mix appeals to a wide array of people. Stephanie Cabral, senior health promotions major, said she would like to live there.

“It would be really convenient,” she said. That way I wouldn’t have to drive anywhere. It would save a lot of time.”

Maria Esquinca may be reached at [email protected].

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MIXing residence with commercial life