“CITY OF ABQ, please help Brewtown.” This has been a message on the marquee in front of Saint Therese Catholic Church in the North Valley in the past.
The message is a plea for the city government to assist us with the promise of the Integrated Development Ordinance (IDO) to “ensure a high-quality built environment for nearby property owners and neighbors.”
We appreciate the mention by Dr. Joe L. Valles’ op-ed on July 12 detailing “the apartment monstrosities built in the near North Valley – one right next to St. Therese Church.” Indeed, we now forever have a Beast – developer Michael Dreskin’s fourth property in our immediate neighborhood – next to and forever dwarfing our Beauty, which is The Shrine of the Little Flower, built in 1954-55 at a cost of $3.2 million dollars. Our Beauty was for decades the finest and costliest building – until the three courthouses at Fourth and Lomas – on Route 66 between Albuquerque and Santa Fe and recognized as a valuable cultural asset with a historic marker by the New Mexico State Department of Transportation.
The Alameda Drain between our Beauty and the Beast will be an exciting project for all city and county residents and visitors. I would have envisioned, even dared to dream of terraced restaurants and microbreweries with unobstructed views of the Sandía Mountains alongside the Alameda Drain and our fine parish and Catholic school properties. Instead, we now have three low-construction-cost apartments and a planned fourth by the same developer two streets south of us that soon will be ghettos.
I was once at a city meeting where County Commissioner Debbie O’Malley, our fine neighbor and dedicated public servant, blasted another developer, Jason Skarsgard, for his violations of the Fourth Street Sector Plan and another non-descript building in our neighborhood. After we walked to the parking garage and having enough of her, he walked to his car. Commissioner O’Malley, so frustrated, then said: “We worked so hard on the Fourth Street Plan only to discover that we have created loopholes for developers.”
Years ago, we invited the City Council to a meeting and tour of Saint Therese. I told them: “Look at our building. It’s like a Cathedral. Use us as an anchor in developing Fourth Street. Fourth Street is Route 66 as well. Help our neighborhood to become a smaller Nob Hill.”
It’s too late for us. We now have a hideous beast next to us and along the Alameda Drain and soon a fourth due to greed of developers who don’t care about us or vision or quality of our lives and have found loopholes. City of Albuquerque, please help everyone else.