San Juan city leaders discuss demolishing historic hotel

San Juan city leaders discuss demolishing historic hotel
1 month 2 weeks 22 hours ago Wednesday, May 29 2024 May 29, 2024 May 29, 2024 9:25 AM May 29, 2024 in News - Local

San Juan city leaders are considering demolishing a historic hotel.

It's been abandoned for years now, and at Tuesday night's city council meeting about half a dozen people spoke out against the idea.

The San Juan hotel sits abandoned off of Business 83. The city bought the hotel late last year, and now city leaders are in talks to demolish it. The hotel first opened its doors in 1920.

The possibility has some residents, like University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Mexican American Studies Professor Dr. Stephanie Alvarez, upset.

"When we erase historical buildings, we are also erasing history," Alvarez said.

Alvarez says she and her students have studied the hotel's history for the past eight years. She says the oral history they collected shows many Mexican Americans were lynched and hung there.

She says even though the hotel has a painful history, it shouldn't be torn down.

"It would be easy to just knock it down and pretend like it never happened, but really what we need as a community is a site for reconciliation," Alvarez said.

That's why Alvarez, along with several other San Juan residents, spoke up at the city council meeting. 

Back in January, the city commission approved $40,000 to go towards preliminary designs that would potentially place a new event and conference center where the San Juan Hotel currently sits.

"It doesn't mean by approving the rendering that it will be demolished, we still have to look for funding," San Juan City Manager Benjamin Arjona said.

Arjona says the city is also still looking into the possibility of fixing up the hotel. He says city leaders are still trying to figure out which option is cheaper.

He says the topic will be up for vote by city council in the coming months.

Watch the video above for the full story.

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