Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Mayor May Order Anasazi Demolished
By Dan McKay
Journal Staff Writer
The nine-story Anasazi building in the heart of Downtown was supposed to be an upscale condo complex with commercial space on the lower floors.
Today, the 85 percent completed project is a target of thieves and vandals.
And Mayor Richard Berry warned federal regulators this week that he will consider demolishing the building if the dilapidated structure doesn't get new life soon.
Berry, in a two-page letter, has asked the FDIC to help craft a plan to redevelop the property, which is largely boarded up and fenced off.
"I'm not willing to wait a year" without progress, Berry told reporters Tuesday, as he stood inside the structure. "Looking around as a contractor, I don't think it's beyond repair."
A spokesman for the FDIC could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
The building, at the southeast corner of Sixth and Central, has been looted by thieves and disfigured by vandals.
Construction was estimated at 85 percent complete when work stopped on it in October 2008 after the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. seized the bank financing the project.
The Anasazi on Tuesday was home to piles of bird droppings, construction debris and wind-blown dust and dirt. Some of the walls are textured and look almost ready for someone to move in. Other areas feature exposed and unfinished pipes.
Berry, who worked in construction before winning the Mayor's Office in 2009, said the building can be saved.
"From a structural standpoint, this thing's a battleship," he said.
Getting the project moving again might not be easy. The owner of the building, Anasazi Downtown LLC, is in default of a note and mortgage held by the FDIC, the city said.
Some of the people involved in the project face criminal charges centering on misuse of bank loans.
Berry said Albuquerque's nuisance laws would allow him to condemn, demolish and put a lien on the property "if progress is not made soon."
The building, in the busy nightclub district, is dangerous, he said. In some cases, there's little barrier to keep someone from falling from the higher floors.
Berry's letter estimated the property's title is worth "zero dollars due to the potentially high costs of renovations and repairs in addition to the cost to complete the project."