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Simplification wins the day

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Those who helped to choose the NAIOP Chairman’s Award took a completely different route this year.

Instead of honoring a particular project, the commercial real estate group is directing one of its top awards to a set of documents: the new Albuquerque Comprehensive Plan, the Integrated Development Ordinance and updates to the Development Process Manual.

Known as the ABC-Z Project, those documents represent “a revolutionary change in the way development happens in the city of Albuquerque,” according to NAIOP. “Rather than a single project, the Chairman’s Award honors the modernization and simplification of the development process itself.”

The three-year effort consolidated a patchwork of repetitive and sometimes contradictory regulations and policies over 60 sector development plans and four ordinances.

“By including predictable development standards … the city has reduced the need for a lengthy review process for many new developments,” NAIOP said, calling one of the documents “the start of a new dynamic.”

This year’s winner of the Chuck Gara Community Leader Award is Paul Silverman, president of Geltmore LLC.

Silverman is described as a “go-to resource” for the real estate industry who has invested in and provided assistance to eight New Mexico startups.

“He’s always pushing to make Albuquerque better,” said Art Tatum, chairman of NAIOP New Mexico.

Also capturing wins in NAIOP’S Awards of Excellence competition were two projects that had to overcome their share of obstacles.

One is the historic El Vado, an old Route 66 motel that suffered years of neglect and decline before it was turned into a mixed-use project that managed to keep a sense of the original property.

“That’s a fun project,” Tatum said. “It’s an old unused hotel that actually got redone, and it’s a great example of adaptive reuse.”

He also pointed to The Carlisle Condominuims, which came back from a destructive arson fire during its initial construction to emerge as “a viable housing project there in Nob Hill.”

Lynne Andersen, president of NAIOP New Mexico, says while the number of entries this year dropped to 46 compared to 60 last year, she thinks that’s because a number of developers are in the middle of some bigger projects. To qualify for consideration this year, construction had to be completed by September.

Debbie Harms, the new chair of NAIOP New Mexico.

“I sense there’s a lot in the pipeline that’s in the process of being completed,” she said.

Replacing Tatum as chair of the development group is Debbie Harms, CEO of NAI Maestas & Ward Commercial Real Estate, one of the largest real estate brokerage companies in the state.

Harms, who has nearly 30 years of experience in commercial real estate, has been on the NAIOP board for three years.