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County to demolish former jail

The old county jail, known as the Regional Correctional Center when it held federal inmates, has been vacant for years. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

Bernalillo County is ready to raze the old Downtown jail.

The county commission on Tuesday night approved a $2.4 million contract with Guzman Construction Solutions to demolish the former lockup near Fourth Street and Roma NW. The county will use the property for a 149-space parking lot to accommodate county vehicles.

The teardown should begin in about a month and will involve a “controlled, non-explosive” process that will take about 10 months to complete, according to a county news release.

The building – called the Regional Correctional Center – had not been used as a jail for years. The county in 2003 moved its inmates to a West Side facility. A private company subsequently leased the Downtown property to house federal inmates, but that ended in 2011.

Rehabilitation of the building would have been costly; one analysis determined it would need about $36 million in renovations to restore it to a usable jail.

In the meantime, the county was spending about $60,000 annually on the building’s utilities and insurance, according to prior Journal reporting.

“Following its use as a correctional center, the old jail had a good run at producing some revenues in other capacities,” Bernalillo County Manager Julie Morgas Baca said in a statement. “But the revenue is not enough to sustain the building that has become dilapidated and in ill repair.”

The county had considered demolition for some time, even including the cost in last fiscal year’s budget.

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