Fallas Building: A Quick History and its Current Situation
By Tatiana Rodriguez
The History of the Fallas Department Store
The Fallas Paredes building once housed The Popular Dry Goods Company, established by Adolph Schwartz, who immigrated to the United States by boat in New York. Schwartz founded his "two story building at the intersection of Overland and South El Paso Street" (Paloma). The store's location changed to where it currently is. This popular department store was designed by El Paso architect Henry Trost, who designed 39 buildings in Downtown El Paso. The building was inspired by the high rises of Chicago and Greco-Roman columns. Once the department store's construction was completed, it "stood with nearly 123,000 feet of floor space" (Paloma). The store hired people from many backgrounds, as well, being the first to hire African Americans in the Southwest.
Fallas Building Closed as a Result of the Pandemic Sales Cuts
In July 2020, the Downtown store located at 301 E. San Antonio Ave., closed temporarily as a result of reduced sales due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Downtown store shuttered its doors previously for a five month closure from 2018 to 2019 "after the El Paso Fire Marshal's Office deemed it a fire danger. City inspectors also found numerous city building code violations" on four of the store's floors "during inspections in 2018" (Kolenc). On March 1, 2019, Fallas reopened following the resolution of all the code violations.
Fallas Discount Store Set to Permanently Close
The store is set to permanently close its doors soon and many wonder what is to come for this historic building. Not much is known as to why this department store is closing but it will be holding an out of business sale only seven months following its reopening in November 2021. "The store's building is full of signs that read 'Going Out of Business,' 'Store Closing,' and 'Entire Store Sale'" (Lopez). An official date for the store's last day has not been announced yet.
Owner Proposes a Possible Renovation
Owner of the Los Angeles area based chain, Michael Fallas, proposed to renovate the over 100 year old establishment. In 2016, Fallas began to speak about possibly renovating the building into apartments, retail space and offices. However, these plans have been put on hold. Fallas has had discussions with co-owner of In Situ Architecture, Bill Helm, regarding the renovation of the building. "In Situ has been involved in several Downtown renovation projects" (Kolenc). What would be put into the Fallas store's building remains undecided.