The aptly named Phoenix Apartments at 1720 Atrisco NW have literally risen from the ashes of one of Albuquerque’s most notorious apartment complexes, Western Palisades, after a prolonged $2.2 million renovation.
Mayor Richard Berry is scheduled to speak Tuesday at a 10 a.m. ribbon-cutting ceremony at the two-story, 25,000-square-foot property with 32 units, where a young girl tragically died in a 2007 fire and, three years later, 10 residents were sickened from carbon monoxide poisoning.
“This has been a long time in coming,” said Chuck Sheldon of T&C Management, which undertook the renovation. “We started in December of 2010 with the acquisition of the property from the bank in conjunction with the city of Albuquerque under the Neighborhood Stabilization Program.”
Owned by an absentee landlord from California, Western Palisades was shut down by city officials in January 2010 after the carbon monoxide incident, which was caused by residents using gas stoves to warm their apartments because the regular heaters didn’t work.
The property, which was hit with more than 200 housing code violations, sat empty for more than a year before T&C got to work.
“In that time frame, the four buildings had been completely vandalized,” Sheldon said. “People had smashed the sheetrock, ripped out the wiring and plumbing, and broken the plumbing fixtures.”
Rehab work began in June 2011 and the project was 85-90 percent completed when a fire gutted two of the four buildings in January 2012, he said. The two untouched buildings were completed, then the project sat for another nine months awaiting the insurance settlement and another round of construction approvals.
Asked if he thought the property might be cursed, Sheldon replied, “I started to think I was cursed.”
The finishing touches were done last week to complete the renovation, which included the addition of a children’s playground and two units that meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements. Eleven of the income-restricted apartments had been rented as of the end of last week.
The name “Phoenix” was chosen as the property’s new name as a nod to the mythological bird that rises from the ashes of its predecessor, Sheldon said.
The 32 Western Palisades apartments were part of a package of 93 apartments to be renovated by T&C Management through a contract awarded by the city of Albuquerque in 2009. T&C was started in 2005, although Sheldon said he has been renovating multifamily properties since the early 1970s.
Sheldon is also a commercial real estate broker with Colliers International.