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Proposed building meant to spark growth in City Center

This artist’s rendering shows The Vision Building, designed to be up to 81,700 square feet in City Center. Image courtesy of Argus Investment Realty.

RIO RANCHO, N.M. — “The Vision Building” is soon to become a reality in City Center.

A reality, that is, when lessees are found for what could be a multi-story building encompassing up to 81,700 square feet of space.

Originally known as a “Virtual Building,” Scott Throckmorton of Argus Investment Realty described the building at Thursday morning’s NAIOP Roundtable at Presbyterian Rust Medical Center.

The Vision Building encompassed only a part of the discussion centered on City Center, which once — back in 2004 — was being targeted as a place not only for Santa Ana Star Center and City Hall, but also a museum and site for Lion’s Gate movie productions.

The Star Center opened in 2006 and City Hall in September 2007, but those other ideas sputtered and disappeared when the 2008 recession occurred.

Hopes for revitalization never died, and as two college campuses were built, plus UNM Sandoval Regional Medical Center, more development has been a focus of Mayor Gregg Hull.

The 23-acre site for The Vision Building is on the north side of King Boulevard, west of Center Drive and due west of the UNM Health Sciences Rio Rancho campus.

Drawings for The Vision Building are 90 percent complete, Throckmorton said, noting the city would fast-track permitting for potential lessees, who would also be able to obtain Local Economic Development Act (LEDA) funds, possible industrial revenue bonds from Sandoval County, plus other incentives.

“We think that we’re very, very competitive,” Throckmorton added.

Jamie Silva-Steele, CEO for SRMC, gave an update on her facility, rosier with the passage of a mill levy in November. Erin Johnson-Kruft, an associate dean at Central New Mexico Community College (CNM), spoke glowingly of how her college is gearing up to provide medical workers to SRMC and other hospitals in the area, plus the soon-to-be transfer of mostly Emergency Medical Service classes from the AMREP building to CNM’s City Center campus.

Johnson-Kruft told of plans to build an observation deck, for a great view of the nearby arroyo and mountains, in the near future.

Greg Campbell of West Wood Realty gave a quick update on housing developments in the City Center area, and Excalibur Realty “land assembler” Mike Skolnick elaborated on new neighborhoods planned mostly on Broadmoor Boulevard and north of Northern Boulevard, as well as two housing developments and a business park near Cleveland High School.

Outgoing Sandoval Economic Alliance CEO Steve Jenkins told of a necessary rebranding of City Center to help target future economic development in there, an area that needs what he called a “commanding address.”

Optimistic about The Vision Building’s success, Jenkins predicted once it’s completed, spaces within it “will go very quickly.”

Also at the meeting, Sandoval County Commissioner Dave Heil asked for those in

From left, Scott Throckmorton of Argus Investment Realty, Sandoval Economic Alliance CEO Steve Jenkins and Jeanie Springer Knight of Springer 5 Investments listen as Sandoval County Commission Chairman Dave Heil speaks in opposition of House Bill 206, the Environmental Review Act, at the Rio Rancho NAIOP Roundtable on Thursday. Photo By: Gary Herron

attendance and others to reach out to local state representatives to get them to kill House Bill 206, “The Environmental Review Act.”

A three-page handout, prepared by SEA, said the bill “will make it extremely difficult to recruit new employers, grow existing local businesses, diversify our state’s economy and create jobs. The act would substantially slow down the process of company locations and expansions, which in the competitive environment we find ourselves, would be even more crippling for new jobs and investments.”

Part of the bill’s wording that concerned Heil was that, “If a project is proposed to occur within 15 miles of the boundary of the land of an Indian nation, tribe or pueblo, the lead agency shall request the Indian nation, tribe or pueblo to become a cooperating agency.”

“This will kill everything we’ve talked about today,” Heil said, warning potential new employers would have to go through a “gauntlet of steps” for approval. “People won’t even consider New Mexico. … It’s going to pit neighbor against neighbor. … Stop this bill.”

A portion of the bill’s wording states the act is intended to “require government agencies at all levels to consider qualitative, technical and economic factors of a project that may impact public health, ecosystems and the environment; long-term as well as short-term benefits and costs of proposed projects; the cumulative impacts of proposed projects; and reasonable alternatives to proposed actions affecting the environment, communities or public health.”

The next Rio Rancho NAIOP Roundtable is slated for March 7, and will feature SEA’s strategic plan.