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County seeks to sell its stake in Government Center

Bernalillo County is leaving the Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Government Center, and it intends to sell its stake in the property, at the western edge of Civic Plaza. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

The city-county building in Downtown Albuquerque is about to lose a signature tenant, but who fills the void is not yet settled.

Bernalillo County in 2021 will vacate its portion of the 11-story building at the western edge of Civic Plaza for its new headquarters about five blocks south.

It intends to sell its 50% stake in the property formally called the Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Government Center but often referred to as City Hall.

Albuquerque, which owns the other 50% of the building, has the first right of refusal. The city and the county have had ongoing discussions about the city’s possible acquisition of the county’s stake. They also recently split the cost of an appraisal, which valued the property at $11.1 million.

That means the city would have to pay the county $5.55 million to take complete control.

County Manager Julie Morgas Baca wrote Albuquerque Chief Operating Officer Lawrence Rael last month referencing the city’s interest in the purchase and proposing that the parties move a deal forward by executing a purchase agreement and handling other details as necessary to close no later than Aug. 31, 2021.

“If the County does not have a written contract with those terms in place in the very near future, the County will need to start making plans to either lease or sell its interest in (the property) to a third party,” she wrote.

Morgas Baca said in an interview this week that she is hopeful that a deal with the city will come to fruition.

“I don’t see any issues on our end,” she said.

Rael, however, was noncommittal when asked by the Journal if the city intends to purchase the building’s other half.

“We have been in conversation with the County for the better part of a year about this project, and we plan to get them an answer (about whether the city will buy it) after the first of the year,” he said in a written statement.

The county’s new headquarters, Bernalillo County @ Alvarado Square, is at 415 Silver SW. The $66.5 million project is expected to be completed by late February or early March, though it may take months for about 800 employees to move into it.

Construction on Bernalillo County @ Alvarado Square is expected to be completed by late February or early March. The county is disposing of other properties and consolidating into Alvarado Square. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

The county may use the proceeds of the sale of its stake in the city-county building to pay down the debt on the new project, according to Shirley Ragin, deputy county manager for finance.

The county is disposing of other properties as part of the consolidation into Alvarado Square but has completed only the sale of its building at 415 Tijeras NW.

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