Sale of Historic Building Was Dereliction Of Duty By Mayor Keller That Benefitted His Donors

Mayor Tim Keller was on the Bob Clark on show on Thursday July 1. He told Clark’s listeners the city council approved the construction of a police station at 4th and Central. Mayor Keller failed to tell the radio listeners that it’s a lease of a mere 1,100 square feet of the historic Rosenwald Building the city bought for $1.7 million and Keller turned around and sold it for $360,000 to donors of his charitable foundation, a $50,000 donation, and donations to his reelection measured finance committee totaling $15,000.

Below is a guest column regarding the sale published by the Albuquerque Journal on July 5:

Headline: Sale of historic building was dereliction of duty

Subtitle: Mayor’s donor now has title to Rosenwald, which is on the National Historic Register

“On June 7, it was reported the City Council voted to approve the sale of the historic Rosenwald Building for $360,000 in a “private bid” to build condos. In 2009, the city had purchased the historic 42,000-square-foot building for $1.7 million. The city sold the Rosenwald Building to someone who made a $50,000 donation to Mayor Keller’s charitable foundation and $15,000 in donations to his measured finance committee. The sale also includes a 14-year lease by the city of 1,100 square feet for an APD police substation.

Built in 1910, the Rosenwald building on Downtown Central Avenue is the first reinforced concrete building in Albuquerque. It was added to the New Mexico State Register of Cultural Properties and the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.

Keller and the City Council have no clue of the importance of preserving a community’s history. Ostensibly they are ignorant of the teardowns of historic structures. First there was the Franciscan Hotel, then the Alvarado followed by the 1970s urban renewal that tore down many historical structures and residential areas and destroyed the Downtown area, making it a ghost town as the city grew to the Northeast Heights.

The Keller administration could have negotiated a 100-year lease, as opposed to a sale that gave title to the building. The Keller Administration should have demanded the purchasers give the city the option to use the entire first floor of the 43,000 square foot building for a substation and not a mere 1,100 square feet of it.

It is the land-title ownership that matters the most. 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, have it torn down and build a high rise. Many a Downtown structure on Central have been torn down and are now dirt parking lots.

A question the City Council should have asked is if the real purpose of the APD lease is to provide police protection for a residential development? Another question the Council never asked is how successful has the Downtown Public Safety District located in the Alvarado Transportation center been and why does APD need a 1,100 square foot office area in a condo building just a few blocks down from the Alvarado substation?

In order to prevent this from 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.

Simply put, the sale of the Rosenwald building should never have happened and was a dereliction of duty by Mayor Tim Keller and the City Council. The sale of a building on the National Register of Historic Places by the city is what you get with Keller, who is more interested in helping his reelection donors with no concern for the city’s history. The City Council failed miserably and was derelict in its oversight function to protect the city’s history.”

The link to the Albuquerque Journal guest column is here:

The link to a related blog article is here:

Historic Rosenwald Building Purchased By City For $1.7 Million Sold By City For $350,000 In “Private Bid”; City Leases Space For APD Substation; Following The Money Leads To Mayor Tim Keller; Council Derelict In Selling Historic Building

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Pete Dinelli was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He is of Italian and Hispanic descent. He is a 1970 graduate of Del Norte High School, a 1974 graduate of Eastern New Mexico University with a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration and a 1977 graduate of St. Mary's School of Law, San Antonio, Texas. Pete has a 40 year history of community involvement and service as an elected and appointed official and as a practicing attorney in Albuquerque. Pete and his wife Betty Case Dinelli have been married since 1984 and they have two adult sons, Mark, who is an attorney and George, who is an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). Pete has been a licensed New Mexico attorney since 1978. Pete has over 27 years of municipal and state government service. Pete’s service to Albuquerque has been extensive. He has been an elected Albuquerque City Councilor, serving as Vice President. He has served as a Worker’s Compensation Judge with Statewide jurisdiction. Pete has been a prosecutor for 15 years and has served as a Bernalillo County Chief Deputy District Attorney, as an Assistant Attorney General and Assistant District Attorney and as a Deputy City Attorney. For eight years, Pete was employed with the City of Albuquerque both as a Deputy City Attorney and Chief Public Safety Officer overseeing the city departments of police, fire, 911 emergency call center and the emergency operations center. While with the City of Albuquerque Legal Department, Pete served as Director of the Safe City Strike Force and Interim Director of the 911 Emergency Operations Center. Pete’s community involvement includes being a past President of the Albuquerque Kiwanis Club, past President of the Our Lady of Fatima School Board, and Board of Directors of the Albuquerque Museum Foundation.