Potential new tallest building in Albuquerque still has many hurdles to clear

symphony tower rendering
Symphony Tower rendering

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – There’s still a ways to go before Albuquerque’s new tallest building takes to the skies downtown. The city is giving the developers of the “Symphony Tower” a chance to hash out more details on its grand plan before giving it an official thumbs up — or thumbs down.

The spot where the “Symphony Tower” could go is at Third and Marquette, in what’s currently a parking lot near City Hall, Civic Plaza and Albuquerque Police headquarters. That lot might end up being gifted to the developers as part of a deal with the city.

However, there’s plenty of other fine print to clarify with the deal, like what the developers are asking of the city – i.e., tax breaks and public assistance. Those things were not clear when the Albuquerque Development Commission voted against the Symphony Tower proposal earlier this week. The idea of the building wasn’t rejected entirely, however. In November, the developers will submit a more detailed proposal for the commission to vote on.

Another proposal from a different group was flat out rejected.

If the ADC, the city and the developers of the “Symphony Tower” can make it work, though, the vision is quite grand – a hotel with pool, condos, retail and office space. The condos, 30 to 60 of them, could be as big as 6,000 sq. ft. There’s no exact price tag on the condos at this point.

“We need big projects like this to create the excitement and to show the opportunity that Albuquerque has,” said John Lopez, president-elect of the Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors.

Still, how realistic is it that people will fill these luxury high rises — especially given the trouble that buildings like the Anasazi, or One Central downtown, faced? It took years for the Anasazi to fill up and involved price reductions and rentals.

“The reason why condos are taking a little bit more time to take off in Albuquerque is because within a 10 minute drive you can have a single family residence for $150,000. But we’re not so much focused anymore on single family residences with this next generation [Gen Z],” Lopez said.

Another reason why he’s confident the “Symphony Tower” or something of the like could be successful — there’s really nothing like it in Albuquerque right now. He called it comparable to what bigger cities in the nation have.

Success won’t happen overnight post-grand opening, though.

“Projects like this, it’s not going to fill up right away. So we’ve got a good long haul ahead of us,” he said.

As for office and retails space, compared to other major cities Albuquerque is cheaper yet has a high number of vacancies. Lopez says the uniqueness of this new building (if it all comes to fruition) will draw business to an already-growing downtown.

The original proposal that the developers of the “Symphony Tower” submit had a total project price tag of $116 million.

At the end of the day, Lopez says, it’s not about immediate return on investment.

“We’re looking at 15, 20 years. But more so we’re investing into our community,” he said.

The developers of the proposed project sent this statement to KRQE News 13:

“The cost established in the proposal has a 15% contingency,” said David Silverman, Principal/Qualifying Broker at Geltmore, LLC. “The final cost of the project will be based on the approval of our final plans. There are several public finance tools that will need to be in place in order for the project to become a reality,” he said. “We feel very confident that the City of Albuquerque will want to move forward with this project and that it will come to fruition.”

“The preliminary plans we’ve developed were crafted with great confidence and understanding of Albuquerque’s marketplace,” said Silverman. “The types of residential and office space units that we’re proposing are already garnering high interest – there’s nothing else like them currently available on the market.”

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