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Optimism was in the air in early 2007 when preliminary plans got underway for a four-story housing project a block south of Central Avenue at the east end of Nob Hill.
“Over the next decade, you’re going to see the entire landscape in that area change,” Chicago-based developer Rick Goldman told the Journal in an article from February of that year.
Goldman was a pioneer in Nob Hill redevelopment in the mid-2000s with his 20-townhome first phase of Aliso Nob Hill fronting Morningside Park, a few blocks east of Carlisle SE. He had just begun construction of Aliso’s second phase when he announced the four-story project just up Silver Avenue.
Then the Great Recession happened.
“The bottom fell out,” he said last week. “We hunkered down and waited out the storm. That’s what everybody did. It wasn’t an Albuquerque thing, it was a nationwide thing.”
Flash forward eight years and that four-story housing project, now called Platinum Apartments, is the first new infill development of the 2010s in what’s called “emerging Nob Hill,” the area straddling Central from Carlisle east to Washington.
Although the project was officially undertaken by a limited liability company, Goldman said the developer is Golden Spike Development, which he co-founded in 2004 with partner Ike Hong. The city building permit puts the construction value at just over $6.1 million.
The 60,000-square-foot building, which is scheduled for completion in July, will have 75 apartments ranging in size from 565 to 1,352 square feet on the upper three floors. The ground floor will be gated and have 74 parking spaces, plus the leasing office, a fitness center and other common space.
All the apartments will have a balcony or porch, a washer and dryer, Energy Star-rated appliances and high-end finishes, said Carlos Conroy, project manager for Pavilion Construction, the Oregon-based general contractor that’s made a name for itself in New Mexico by building low-income housing tax-credit projects.
Platinum Apartments is market-rate, meaning it will have no income restrictions on tenants like a tax-credit project, prompting Conroy to say, “We’re diversifying our job portfolio here with this project.”
Fundamentals stay strong
With an address of 4100 Silver SE, the 0.85-acre site spans a full block between Sierra and Montclaire. The property was assembled from three parcels, giving it a size that’s rare in an old, established neighborhood like Nob Hill, Goldman said.
The intervening years between late 2007 and early 2013, when the project was rebooted, saw lending disappear for speculative commercial real estate projects, causing the five-year delay in the project, Goldman said. The four apartments and a small office building on the half-vacant property at the time were leased.
“It wasn’t long after the thaw in the banking industry that we were at it,” he said, noting that the passage of those five years hadn’t changed his optimism.
“The fundamentals have remained strong despite the ups and downs of the economy. We always felt good about the access of the site and the overall strength of the location,” he said.
A project like Golden Spike’s four-story apartment building wouldn’t have been possible 10 years ago because of height restrictions. The passage of the Nob Hill Highland Sector Development Plan in 2007, subsequently amended, allows taller buildings in the Central Avenue corridor.
“That was a pretty seminal moment,” Goldman said.
Platinum Apartments has a building height of 54 feet, which compares to 45 feet for CenturyLink’s switching hub for phone calls a couple blocks north at 120 Sierra NE. Built in 1960, the switching hub was the tallest commercial building in Nob Hill’s Central Avenue corridor.
In early January, the city of Albuquerque received proposals from private developers to redevelop the now-derelict De Anza Motor Lodge at 4301 Central NE, a little over three blocks away from Platinum. Built in 1939 and purchased by the city in 2003, the 2.1-acre De Anza site has some historical significance.
The submitted proposals won’t be made public until they’re presented to the Albuquerque Development Commission in early March.
Depending on how the redevelopment proposals are structured financially – specifically whether government subsidies are involved – the De Anza redevelopment will likely involve some demolition of existing buildings and construction of a new four-story building or buildings.
Goldman said Platinum Apartments is the first market-rate apartment built as urban infill in Albuquerque since
the 198-unit Albuquerque Uptown Village at 2222 Uptown Loop NE opened in 2009. Located in an employment hub with plenty of shopping nearby, Uptown Village is widely considered a major success.
“Uptown Village has consistently outperformed both its submarket and the Albuquerque apartment market in general,” said multifamily broker Billy Eagle at commercial real estate services firm CBRE, who tracks the apartment market.
“Since 2009, its average occupancy has been 97 percent and rents have continually set the bar in Albuquerque due to its superior location, amenities and walkability,” he said.
Goldman expects Platinum Apartments to score the same level of success. Platinum’s name was inspired in part by the fact it is designed by Environmental Dynamics Inc., often shortened to “edi,” to achieve platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program.
The green, energy-efficient design starts with the building site’s orientation toward the sun, explained Environmental Dynamics principal Stace McGee.
Since the site has an east-west axis, the long south side of the building has deep overhangs over the porches to keep direct sunlight out during the hot months but allow it in during the winter, he said. The long north side of the building, which offers panoramic views, is open because direct sunlight is not a problem in the summer.
“It’s a site-specific, climate-driven design,” McGee said.
Platinum Apartments will be an estimated 40 percent more energy efficient than a code home in Albuquerque, he said. A 13 kilowatt photovoltaic or solar system will provide all the building’s “house power,” such as lighting in the open corridors, and common areas like the fitness center and open-access porches.
The LEED platinum design led to the use of a 60-foot-high crane with a horizontal boom that’s used to lift into place large panels of framing that were prefabricated offsite. The crane pokes well above the cityscape in the area.
“With a (infill) project like this, there’s really no staging area,” said Pavilion project superintendent Marek Coston. “It makes it more efficient and cuts down on our waste.”