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Mariposa Calls It Quits

RIO RANCHO – The lackluster economy and dismal property sales are forcing the developer of the high-end and remote Mariposa community in northwest Rio Rancho to call it quits on the project.

High Desert Investment Corp., the investment arm of Albuquerque Academy, plans to close its sales and information office at Mariposa and has listed the land and lots it owns in the master-planned community with Land Advisors Organization of Scottsdale, Ariz., a company that specializes in large tracts of land, board member Gary Gordon said this week.

“We can’t wait any longer,” Gordon said.

With home and land sales flat in recent years and expected revenues a fraction of the projected level, Gordon said High Desert was burning through its own cash reserves to cover expenses for the community.

Around $1 million a year was going to cover bonds the company sold to pay for water and wastewater improvements the city required for Mariposa and surrounding homes.

And High Desert was paying about $400,000 a year – or around 75 percent – of the community association’s budget for amenities such as the community center with its gym and swimming pool.

Gordon said the company did it to help market the community but it can’t continue to do so.

Property owners will have to pick up the extra amount if they want to keep the amenities running in the same way, Gordon said.

He said the company recently met with representatives of the homeowners association to inform them of the situation. “It was a difficult decision,” Gordon said. “We’ve been limping along with cash reserves and cutting expenses but things are just not turning the corner.”

Mariposa sits on a roughly 1,450-acre tract west of Unser and south of U.S. 550 that Rio Rancho annexed in 2002.

High Desert Investment, developer of the high-end High Desert community in Albuquerque, launched the Mariposa project in 2005. The company projected to have 1,650 homes built and several thousand feet of commercial and office space. So far, it has sold about 230 lots, and almost half of a 16,000-square-foot office building opened in 2007 is empty.

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