Neighborhood behind Del Sol looks like a ghost town as hospital buys up property

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Robert Fraga has lived in his house on Boxwood Drive for the past 35 years. He is one of the few remaining homeowners on the street. The rest of the houses are vacant and many have been boarded up.

Fraga’s neighborhood rests right behind Del Sol Hospital. For more than a decade, the hospital has been buying those houses but nothing has been done with them.

“They came over and offered us money 10 years ago,” Fraga said.

He isn’t the only one. Neighbors we spoke with say the hospital has offered to buy their houses as well. Some are considering taking the hospital up on the offer because parking has become a major problem.

“It's total chaos,” Fraga said. “People are parking all over the place.”

The homeowners tell the CBS4 Problem Solvers it’s the Del Sol Medical Center employees who park all along their neighborhood. Our crews spotted numerous employees getting into their cars after work on Thursday and some even cutting though the vacant lots to get to and from the hospital.

Fraga said he and his neighbors have complained about the problem before. Some have even called the police to complain about a driveway getting blocked.

“Some of the people have talked to the security and told him what kind of problems we’re having and they said, ‘OK’ but they won't do anything but that's the biggest thing is that the hospital won't do anything,” Fraga said.

Some of the homeowners even use their trash and recycling bins to try to block off the areas in front of their houses so people won’t park there.

Along with the parking problems, neighbors here say cars speed through the area at all times of the day, making it dangerous.

“This could cause accidents you know. There are guys that passed through here at high speeds,” Fraga said.

The CBS4 Problem Solvers looked through Central Appraisal District and county records and found that 18 properties are owned by El Paso Heath Care System Limited on Boxwood Drive and Bois D’Arc Drive alone.

The earliest property sale to the hospital was in 2001 and the most recent was in 2016. A search through the deed transfers found that, on paper, the houses were all purchased for $10 each. They are worth anywhere from $90,000-$140,000.

Six properties nearby on Vista Del Sol Drive and two on Gateway West also belong to the hospital.

“Right now the houses are really trashed and they never remodeled the houses,” Fraga said.

Some of the homeowners say they heard a parking garage was going to be built there. That’s something Fraga says he would support.

“I think that would be a big relief to put a parking space and put a wall like they did upfront like that, I think that would be perfect,” he said.

But for now, he’s not planning on leaving, even if all his neighbors move.

“It's going to be hard for us to really get out and if it's a last resort that we have we'll move out but if they tell us not to we'll stay here,” Fraga said.

The CBS4 Problem Solvers reached out to Del Sol for a comment. This is the statement Del Sol sent back, which was attributed to David Shimp, the chief executive officer of the hospital?:

"Del Sol Medical Center has worked with our neighbors over an extended period of time to purchase 17 properties located directly behind the hospital—on Bois D Arc Drive and Boxwood Circle—to allow for future facility growth so that we may continue to serve the growing healthcare needs of the El Paso community. The expansion strategy for this area is not yet finalized and will ultimately be determined based on community need. We anticipate leveling some of the homes we purchased. In the meantime, we have taken steps to make the properties more aesthetically pleasing and will continue to be good neighbors.”

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