ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – State-owned properties are typically tax exempt, so when the county told the City of Albuquerque and the University of New Mexico to pay up for Innovate ABQ, they were shocked.
The project is a collaborative initiative between UNM, the city, some private companies and Bernalillo County.
“This is one of the largest game-changing developments that our downtown and frankly, that our city has ever seen,” Gilbert Montaño said.
It’s sprawled across the northwest corner of Central Avenue and Broadway.
So far, what’s in place is only a fraction of what plans show will eventually occupy the seven-acre lot. The point of the project is to create a complex for researchers and innovators. It even includes UNM student housing.
Montaño also said since it’s state-owned property, it should be tax exempt.
“It was quite a shock to see the assessed value at the level it was, understanding that it’s a state-owned property and that it has both charitable and educational opportunities,” he said.
Back in 2016, Bernalillo County assessed the property. Innovate ABQ paid more than $40,000 in taxes for the vacant land.
“When this building is completed at a $25-$30 million level, that valuation skyrockets,” he said.
Investors say taxes on the property aimed at innovation could end in devastation. So Innovate ABQ is taking the county assessor and the county commissioners to court.
Montaño said the city met with County Assessor Tanya Giddings, and that initially, there was confusion over exactly who owns and operates the property.
“I think there is a misunderstanding that we’re hoping the courts can decide,” Montaño said. “We hope that it gets rectified and that it does have tax exempt status, specifically for the job opportunities and job creations it relates to.”
The city says it’s hoping a judge makes a decision before the end of 2017 and before everyone has to pay taxes on the lot again — this time with a structure in place.
KRQE News 13 reached out to the Giddings to see why the county is taxing this state owned property. We didn’t hear back.