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.
MAYOR KELLER SPOON FEEDS LAZY NEWS REPORTERS
On Wednesday, July 21, KOB Channel 4, KOAT Channel 7 and Channel 13 did news reports on Mayor Tim Keller’s sale of the historic Rosenwald Building in a “private sale” and efforts to revitalize downtown and how APD will have a substation in the building. All 3 news reports reflect what we can expect from local news media being spoon fed via press conference giving only glowing reports of the Keller Administration and leaving out damaging information as Keller seeks a second term. Review of all 3 news stories is in order.
CHANNEL 4 REPORT
Following is the transcript of the Channel 4 report with the link to the full story:
STORY HEADLINE: Albuquerque plans to revitalize downtown, add new police station
“People are out, businesses are open, but the recovery is just getting started.
“We are seeing some very, very positive momentum with respect to downtown,” Mayor Tim Keller said.
Keller wants downtown to be a place people want to be. He said that starts with addressing one of the biggest community concerns – crime.
“Being downtown and being visible, having a place people can walk right up to file a police report or ask for services or assistance, that’s going to make us that much more effective,” Albuquerque Police Department Officer Hence Williams said.
APD will have a new downtown police station filling an empty space at the Rosenwald Building at Fourth and Central, which is an upgrade from its current post at the transit center.
“The challenge with the station in the Alvarado Transit Center, it’s very hidden,” Keller said. “We put a sign out but it’s hard for people to find and it’s also at just one end of downtown.”
City officials said the revitalization efforts extended beyond that building. They revamped more lighting during the pandemic but they have more plans to light up dark areas of downtown, including alleys.
Officials are also planning to literally clean the place up – with street sweepers and clean-up crews.
“We’ll also have a dedicated graffiti crew assigned to this downtown district to erraticate any graffiti even before it gets called in,” said Matthew Whelan, director of the Solid Waste Department.
Albuquerque is also moving forward with the development of a one-mile Rail Trail that will connect the Rail Yards to the Albuquerque Convention Center, Transit Station, and Glorietta Station. The $5 million project is in the design phase.”
CHANNEL 7 REPORT
Following is the transcript of the Channel 7 report with the link to the full story:
STORY HEADLINE: APD substation to go in heart of downtown on Central
SUBHEADLINE: Family working with city to try and fix up the area
“Right now, the heart of downtown Albuquerque is a bit heartbreaking.
A lot of once-cool old buildings are now boarded up. There is broken glass.
There is also hope.
“Somebody has to go first and we knew when some of these historic properties started to go up, we felt like it had to be us, and this is another example of our investment in downtown,” said Carlos Garcia.
Garcia and his family grew up near downtown. They just bought an old building in the middle of downtown Albuquerque. They are working with the city to try and fix up the area. Their hope is to convert an old, historic building into new offices or home space.
The first tenants in their building will be APD officers in a new police substation.
“We want to make it a more inviting place so we figured that the more police presence down here people will feel safe coming down here,” said APD Commander Scott Norris.
In 2007, the city bought the old building with the intention of converting it into a Holocaust museum. That never happened. So it sat vacant, falling apart. The city put it on the market. The Garcia family were the only bidders.
“Major reconstruction needs to happen and the Garcia’s have stepped up to do that as part of their investment in downtown,” said Lawrence Rael, the city’s chief operations officer.
Garcia says they’ll have major work to do on the building, and says the police substation will be a priority. He says that a portion of the building should be open and operational by January.
City leaders are also promising to clean up the area and have put in additional lighting.
KOAT asked about financial aid for businesses that have been vandalized.
A spokeswoman says there was a $139,000 grant for that. City leaders say they’re seeking additional funding for downtown businesses that have been vandalized.”
CHANNEL 13 REPORT
Following is the transcript of the Channel 13 report with the link to the full story:
HEADLINE: City of Albuquerque looks to revitalize downtown space
The City of Albuquerque is working on revitalizing downtown, making it safer for everyone. The city and Mayor Tim Keller are seeing that all successful big cities also have a very vibrant downtown. They believe Albuquerque’s downtown has potential.
Mayor Keller refers to downtown as the core of the city but says it needs to be safer. First, the city is planning on lowering the speed limit throughout the area and fix the police presence in downtown.
They sold the Rosenwald building at Fourth Street and Central to a company that plans to put in condos. That deal includes a lease agreement with the Albuquerque Police Department to turn part of the first floor into a substation. Officers hope the condos will help build more relationships with citizens downtown.
“Being right downtown, being visible, having a place people can walk right up to file a police report or ask for services or assistance is just going to make us that much more effective,” said Officer Hence Williams, Albuquerque Police Department.
The downtown patrol the city has currently will move from the Transit Center to the Rosenwald Building once renovations are done. They also plan on changing shifts for APD in order to rework shift hours so officers are out during peak bar hours downtown. Over the past two months, downtown officers say they have responded to 31 fights and 47 DWI arrests.
CITY COUNCIL VOTES TO APPROVE KELLER’S REQUEST TO SELL ROSENWALD BUILDING
It was on June 7 that it was reported the City Council voted to approve the “sale and lease” 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 Council had more than a few questions as well as reservations because they simply did not understand the transaction. The Youtube link to the city council discussion is here:.
Chief Operations Officer Lawrence Rael explained to the council how the transaction “sale and lease” worked. Rael explained the sale included a 14-year lease back by the city for a 1,400 square foot APD substation. The “sale and lease” was explained by Rael as not the traditional type of mortgage sale nor lease. The lease by the city is a financial arrangement where monthly rent owed by the city for the substation once it’s built out will be deducted from the $360,000 purchase price. In other words, the sale did not require payment of any cash by the purchasers.
There is no discussion of the building being on the historical register. Further, the city council was told the city owned only the first and second floors and was paying $50, 000 yearly for the maintenance cost. It was State funding allocated by legislature of $1.7 million to buy the building for the holocaust museum. Chief Operations Officer Lawrence Rael told councilors that the city contacted the State before the sale and asked if they wanted it and the state declined to take it. No questions were asked by councilor’s regarding who are principles of the Limited Liability Corporation purchasing the building.
Online records reveal a company called Townsite Qo21 LLC put in a private bid for $350,000, the so called appraised value of the Rosenwald 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.
$50,000 DONATION MADE TO KELLER’S CHARITABLE FOUNDATION
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.
DONATIONS MADE TO MEASURED FINANCE COMMITTEE PROMOTING 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 major donors:
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
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:
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
The Channel 4, 7 and 13 reports is what you can expect from lazy news station reporters who ask no questions and do no investigation and only report positive things that they are “spoon fed” by Mayor Tim Keller in his press conferences as he seeks a second term. All 3 news stations failed to report that Keller sold a historic 42,000 square foot building the city bought for $1.7 million with state monies for $360,000 to people who donated $50,000 to the Mayor Keller’s charitable foundation and $15,000 to the measured finance committee promoting him for a second term.
$305,000 MEDIAN SALE PRICE FOR HOME
What adds insult to injury is the selling an historical building for $360,000 for luxury condos that in all likely will be sold each for at least $300,000 with a police substation that will be a selling point for condo purchasers.
On July 12, it was reported that for the first time, the median sale price for a single-family home in metro Albuquerque has eclipsed $300,000. The median sale price for a detached single-family house hit $305,000 in June, up 25.8% from June 2020, according to monthly figures published Monday by the Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors. Additionally, the mean sale price stood at $341,350, a 22% rise since last June.
A link to the full news story is here:
SURPLUS SALE OF PROPERTY
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 how could it be declared surplus property and not-essential when the city intend to have a police substation in the building?
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 now need a 1,400 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.
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.
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.
A link to a related blog article is here: