ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Six years after foreclosure, Copper Square is in new hands.
The Garcia family, known mostly for its automotive dealerships around Albuquerque, Santa Fe and El Paso, recently purchased the five-story building at Copper and 5th NW, said Sheilah Garcia, president of Garcia Automotive Group.
The family bought it from First Financial Credit Union for an undisclosed price.
Copper Square had been part of a high-profile bank fraud case. The credit union had foreclosed on it 2010 after real estate developer Vincent J. Garcia, no relation to the buyers, defaulted on his loan for a redevelopment project. Shortly thereafter, a federal grand jury indicted Garcia for bank fraud and money laundering for allegedly taking draws on bank loans meant for his redevelopment projects — including Copper Square and Downtown’s Anasazi building — to use for other purposes, including investment in a casino. He pleaded guilty to one count and was sentenced to 27 months in federal prison.
Copper Square measures 94,000 but has just one existing tenant, a small salon that owns its space.
Sheilah Garcia said her family has no definite plans for the property but is “mulling over some different things,” like perhaps a combination of living units and offices.
“We’re just kind of looking at different opportunities. We haven’t come up with anything specific yet. I think it’s got a lot of potential,” she said. “It’s a nice building and nice location.”
Copper Square joins another of the family’s recent Downtown acquisitions: the former Southwestern Brewery and Ice Co., an old brick building near Lomas and Broadway. They have not determined how to use that building either, Sheilah Garcia said, but were attracted to the property in part because of all the activity surrounding Innovate ABQ at Central and Broadway.
“We kind of have to watch what other people are doing and what is needed,” she said.
Don Bascue, an analyst with First Financial, said when the credit union originally listed Copper Square several years ago, it had sought a “substantially higher” price than it ultimately received, but that the building was costly to maintain. It had most recently been marketed for $2 million.
“Of course we would’ve liked to have gotten more for it, but we were paying expenses of six figures annually — heating and air conditioning and electrical bills and property taxes and whatnot, and there was very little income,” said Bascue who declined to divulge the actual purchase price.
Tim Lopez of Keller Williams Commercial brokered the sale with colleague Lori Partain.