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Dishing the dirt on Lovelace’s new site

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Heavy equipment is on site grading for the future Lovelace Medical Group office building at Jefferson and Osuna.

“We’ve added 23,000 cubic yards of dirt to get the elevation and topography we need and (ensuring) good drainage, as well” prior to construction, said developer Scott Throckmorton, owner and president of Argus Investment Realty. “It’s ‘clean’ soil” being spread around the site, said Throckmorton of the dirt quality that is certified by engineers.

Construction will begin shortly with underground utility work, footings and concrete slabs being poured. “Then things start going vertical.”

Initially, Lovelace will be the sole tenant in a two-story, 43,000-square-foot clinic called Independence Square. The construction bill has been estimated at $25 million to $30 million at total buildout and the project is on track to be completed by March 2017.

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After getting the office building rolling for Lovelace, landlord Throckmorton hopes to line up tenants for a retail strip center fronting Jefferson. Top of the list are a restaurant, a coffee purveyor and a bank or credit union.

Shot in the arm

While new construction is underway at the future Lovelace facility, another health care provider is gearing up for a major move to Downtown, a development that may be a nice shot in the arm for merchants in Albuquerque’s urban core.

ABQ Health Partners’ decision to relocate its corporate headquarters to the former Bank of America building is not only a nice uptick in business for general contractors remodeling four floors, but also nearby restaurant and retail operators should see benefits once its 240 employees arrive this fall, said Scott Throckmorton, who represents the Class B property owner.

“Having all those employees there Monday through Friday” should provide a nice boost, he said.

Throckmorton said ABQ Health Partners’ lease for six floors in the building (4-8, plus the basement) puts the building at 82 percent occupancy. He is entertaining interest from some other potential tenants, which should get the building to 90 percent occupancy by the end of the year.

A blank canvas

The former Sprint call center in Rio Rancho is still hosting site visits by representatives of firms looking for a home for their expanding call center or back-office operations.

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“Sprint has completely decommissioned the facility,” said Tim With of Colliers Albuquerque, adding that the wireless phone operator has removed furniture and proprietary equipment.

“It shows a lot better than it did before,” said With, who is representing landlord Call LLC, a real estate investment trust. Prospects touring the facility can better envision how they could best maximize the 95,000-square-foot space for their own purposes without the distraction of dated decor.

There were initial discussions with T-Mobile representatives to lease the space, but nothing material ever resulted.

With and partner John Ransom are targeting “multiple prospective tenants” for the facility, which Sprint opened in 1998 and grew to about 1,400 employees before shuttering earlier this year.

The Real-ty thing

Realty One of New Mexico is expanding its residential real estate business with an eighth location at 7441 Alameda NE, Suite B.

The new office has a full-time receptionist, two conference rooms, open work areas, five private offices leased by brokers, a kitchen and a patio. The “modern, contemporary style of this office is what Realty One is all about. We are proud to offer our brokers the latest technology and training. We provide everything they need to create and run their own successful business,” Jessica Taylor said.

To celebrate the new space and its impressive growth to now more than 300 brokers, Realty One is hosting a grand opening celebration at the new office on Saturday at 3 p.m.

The company opened in 2006, and is co-owned by Jessica and Mike Taylor. It has more than 300 brokers with seven residential real estate offices in Albuquerque, and one each in Santa Fe and Los Lunas.

Negative equity ebbing in ABQ

Negative equity in the housing market, one of the hangovers from the housing bubble, is disappearing in the Albuquerque metro area, according to Irvine, Calif.-based CoreLogic.

As of the first quarter, 7.7 percent of homes with a mortgage were in negative equity in the area, meaning they were worth less than what was owed on the mortgage, down from 11.2 percent in the first quarter of 2015 and 9.5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2015.

Homes with negative equity are often called “underwater.”

The average rate nationwide was 8 percent in the first quarter, down from 10.3 percent last year and 8.5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2015.

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