The Rosenwald Building is a historic building located In Downtown Albuquerque on Central and built in 1910. It was the first reinforced concrete building in the city. It is a massive 42,000-square-foot three-story building with a two-story recessed entrance and simple geometric ornamentation. The building was added to the New Mexico State Register of Cultural Properties and the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. The Rosenwald Building was renovated in 1981 and the upper floors were converted to office space. The city of Albuquerque bought the building in 2007 for $1.7 million under Mayor Chavez who left office in 2009. The building remained vacant with the city never developing it for its own use and city services.
CITY SELLS ROSENWALD BUILDING
On June 7, it was reported that the Albuquerque City Council voted to approve the sale of the historic, 3 story Rosenwald Building in the heart of downtown Albuquerque. There are two well known sayings that apply to the sale of the Rosenwald building, one when it comes to real estate and the other when it comes to politics:
In real estate: “Location, location, location is everything!”.
In politics: “Follow the Money!”
Online records reveal a company called Townsite Qo21 LLC put in a private bid for $350,000, the so called appraised value of the building. The company intends to build condominiums. Qo21 is a New Mexico Domestic Limited-Liability Company created on January 16, 2019. The company’s filing status is listed as Active and its File Number is 5814235. The Registered Agent on file for this company is Edward Garcia, who is also one of the principals with the Garcia Automotive. The Garcia family, the principal owners of the Garcia Automotive group, are also major stakeholders in the Albuquerque downtown real estate.
The approved legislation includes a proposed lease agreement for the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) to move the downtown substation now located at the Alvarado Transportation into the first floor of Rosenwald Building in a 1,100 square foot space. Renderings include a reception area, workspace, offices, and a kitchenette. The initial lease would be just under 14 years with the option to extend it.
Links to news sources are here:
FOLLOWING THE MONEY LEADS TO TIM KELLER
The measured finance committee formed to support Mayor Tim Keller’s bid for a second 4 year term is called “BUILD BACK ‘BURQUE”. Review of the third Financial Statement filed by Build Back ‘Burque reveals the following information:
STATED PURPOSE: “Support Mayor Tim Keller’s re-election to a second term for the city of Albuquerque”
The Chairperson for “Build Back ‘Burque” is Michelle Mayorga. According to the American Association of Political Consultants “Michelle Mayorga has spent nearly 2 decades working on campaigns, progressive issues, and in local and national administrations. She previously served as Western Field Director at the AFL-CIO, Western Political Director at the DCCC, and Coordinated Director for the Democratic Party of New Mexico in 2012.” The Treasurer for “Build Back ‘Burque” is Robert Lara. Mr. Lara is a licensed New Mexico attorney and is the former State Treasurer of the Democratic Party of New Mexico.
CASH BALANCE FROM LAST REPORT: -0-
TOTAL MONETARY CONTRIUTIONS FOR PERIOD: $22,500
TOTAL EXPENDITURES FOR PERIOD: $500.64
CLOSIING BALANCE: $21,999.36
ED GARCIA, Garcia Automotive Group: $5,000
TOBY GARCIA, Garcia Automotive Group: $5,000
ED GARCIA, Garcia Automotive Group: $2,500
TOBY GARCIA, Garcia Automotive Group:$2,500
NEW MEXICO BUILDING TRADES: $5,000
Note that Ed Garcia and Toby Garcia are listed as with Garcia Automotive Group. Both donated $7,500 each for a total of $15,000 of the $21,999.36 closing balance for “Build Back ‘Burque”.
The link to the 2021 Campaign Finance Reports for BUILD BACK ‘BURQUE is here:
NOT THE FIRST TIME MAKING CONTRIBUTIONS TO HELP KELLER
On January 7, 2019, Mayor Tim Keller announced the creation of the One Albuquerque Foundation. It’s a foundation formed by the city to collect donations from the general public to support city initiatives and projects. According to the city’s website page:
“… the endowment Fund raises funds in support of and to supplement measurable city priorities, including the housing voucher program for people experiencing homelessness, recruiting and retaining public safety officers, expanding opportunities for young people in Albuquerque, and equipping our workforce with the skills they need to succeed. Additional funding for these priorities will accelerate progress and help scale significant investments the City is already making go much farther, much faster.”
On February 7, 2020 the Albuquerque Journal reported that Mayor Tim Keller’s “Albuquerque One Foundation” raised nearly $250,000 with Mayor Keller involved with the solicitation of the donations. Records provided by the city pursuant to a request for public records show most of the money came from a cross section of well-known businesses and individuals. The donations that make up the $250,000 are not small donations from people but are in the thousands made by a few. All told, 35 entities and individuals donated $248,250 to the fund.
A breakdown of the larger donations to Keller’s “Albuquerque One Foundation” revealed that the Garcia Automotive Group was the single largest donor and donating $50,000. Garcia Subaru is part of the Garcia Automotive which also owns several car dealerships, including Honda, Volkswagen, Infiniti, Cadillac, Mercedes, Jaguar, Land Rover and Alfa Romeo. The Garcia family also own significant parcels of commercial real estate in the Old Town Area and has a stake in the New Mexico United professional soccer team, with the city currently looking for a new site for a soccer stadium.
DOWNTOWN PUBLIC SAFETY DISTRICT CREATED
It was on September 12, 2018 that Mayor Tim Keller and the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) announced the creation of a “Downtown Public Safety District.” Keller made the announcement at the Alvarado Transportation Center where the substation was to be located. The announcement was made by Keller with great fanfare surrounded by all his top administrators, including APD Brass. The creation of the district was in response to a petition drive by Downtown businesses and residents demanding such a substation.
The Downtown Police District was to be headed by an APD Deputy Chief with a Lieutenant and Sergeant assigned. The goal was to have a permanent police presence in Downtown Albuquerque. The congregation of the homeless in the area have been a chronic problem especially around the Alvarado Transportation Center. Consequently, a Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) was to be assigned to the district to address homelessness and behavioral health needs.
Several other city departments a well as community organizations were to provide services to the homeless and mentally ill. Albuquerque Fire Rescue (AFR) was to increase its presence near Central Avenue during high-volume call times and by driving a loop around the district after each call for service. The Transit and Municipal Development departments were to contribute security personnel to the district in coordination with APD’s patrol plans. The Municipal Development and Solid Waste departments were to expand the use of street cleaning machines throughout Downtown, including alleyways, and add collection routes for Downtown businesses to address overflow of trash from Saturday nights. 5. Solid Waste was to use its Block-by-Block program to wash sidewalks and its Clean City Graffiti crew to eradicate graffiti as soon as possible.
SIXTY DAY TACTICAL PLAN ANNOUNCED
During the May 17, City Council meeting, City councilors asked questions regarding the safety of downtown Albuquerque on Central after two consecutive weekends of violence and mayhem. On Friday, May 7, mayhem in Downtown Albuquerque when APD Officers were called around 9 p.m. to a parking lot at Second and Central for reports of a man with a gun. The man fled, ramming a vehicle that had two women inside to escape the parking lot. Over the May 14 weekend, a shooting, sexual assault and reports of general mayhem in Downtown Albuquerque. On Sunday, May 16, APD Police said a man was shot Downtown late Sunday night after a group of motorcyclists, allegedly members of the Bandidos gang, opened fire on a car.
Valley Area Commander Josh Brown announced during the council meeting that APD will initiate a 60-day operation on May 29 in Downtown. The tactical plan will utilize DWI-units, traffic police and other investigative units. Commander Brown said the operation will run Thursdays through Sundays and there will be “zero tolerance” on modified exhaust, racing and traffic violations.
Commander Brown told city councilors that crowds have always congregated around Downtown but the problem is “outliers” who “are there strictly to commit crime.” Brown stressed that APD is not targeting the Downtown cruising scene and told councilors:
“We don’t have a problem with them, they have high-end cars that they’ve invested money into. They’re there with their families and they’re not causing problems. We’re targeting the other groups that are coming in that have nothing better to do – drinking in public, shooting guns, things like that. … Public perception is just that, it’s a perception of safety. If people don’t feel safe it’s my job to make sure that they do. ”
The link to quoted source material is here:
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
The City of Albuquerque owns tracts of land and buildings that are sometimes no longer needed to satisfy a public purpose. These types of properties are known as “surplus properties.” Once the Real Property Division identifies a potential surplus property, it seeks to have it declared not-essential by the City Council. Not-essential properties are then marketed for sale in accordance with City Ordinance and are sold through a bidding process. The question that remains unanswered is why was the Rosenwald Building sold in a private sale and when was it declared surplus property and not-essential?
Next thing you know, Keller and the City Council will want to sell the historic KIMO to developers in a private bid process so that the public will never know about it.
The sale of a building by the city on the National Register of Historic Places is what you get when you elect a Mayor and a City Council that has absolutely no clue as to the history of the city. Instead of selling the building, the City and the Mayor should have given the developer a 100 year lease, as opposed to title to the building.
In order to prevent this from ever, ever happening again, the City Council needs to enact an ordinance that strictly prevents city hall from ever selling historical buildings once bought by the city. The ordinance would mandate maintenance, repairs and remodeling as the need requires for city use.
It’s the land ownership that matters the most as to location, location, location. Once title transfers, the new property owners can do whatever they want with it, including building the proposed condos, renovate it for office space, or just hold on to it as a vacant building. The building owners can even seek to have the building declared substandard as to making it a danger for occupancy and have it torn down and build a high rise. Many a downtown structures on central have been turndown and are now dirt parking lots.
Mayor Keller and the City Council have no clue of the importance of preserving a community’s history and have forgotten the teardowns of historic structures. First there was the Franciscan Hotel and then the Alvarado. Then you had the 1970’s urban renewal that literally torn down many historical structures and residential areas with urban renewal which essentially destroyed the downtown area making it a “ghost area” as the city grew to the north east heights.
Simply put, the sale of the Rosenwald building should never of happened and was a dereliction of duty by the Mayor and City Council.
It was a sure act of stupidity on the part of Mayor Tim Keller and the Albuquerque City Council to sell a landmark building the city owns in the heart of Albuquerque on Central for the building of condos in the very area that is becoming a war zone. A question that the city council never asked is how successful has the Downtown Public Safety District located in the Alvarado Transportation center been and why does the APD need a 1,100 square foot office area in a condo building just a few blocks down from the Alvarado transportation center?
What is also pathetic is that the City Council agrees to a 14 years lease for a 1,100 square foot APD substation in a 42,000-square-foot three-story building. You would think the city could have at least demanded to give the city option to use the entire first floor as a substation and not a mere 1,100 square feet of it. Another question that should have been asked is if the real purpose of the APD lease is to provide police protection for a residential development?
The sale of city owned historical building is what you get when you elect a Mayor like Tim Keller who secures $65,000 for his personal agenda and election efforts and a City Council that is derelict in it duties and forgets the city’s past mistakes and its history.
Links to two related blog articles on the history of downtown and uptown Albuquerque are here: