California developer to renovate historic downtown Albuquerque building

ALBUQUERQUE, NM (KRQE) – The city is selling a historic building in the heart of downtown for less than the average home sale price in Albuquerque.

The three-story Rosenwald building, 320 Central Avenue SW, dates back to 1910 and the one-time department store is featured on the National Register of Historic Places.

It has been sitting empty with the exception of a private owner on the third floor, but it finally has a new buyer in California-based Murrieta Development, which released early designs of proposed changes to the facade.

The company was the only developer to give the city a proposal for the property and its offer of $200,000 was approved on Jan. 2.

The low purchase price was a surprise to many locals.

“What is that? Like a dollar a square foot? It’s unbelievable!” said local, Joseph Mistretta. “Whoever bought it for $200,000 I’ll give you $250,000 right now!”

A representative with Murrieta Development said the developer will convert the space into apartments, with more apartments and either a restaurant or retail on the ground floor.

There was a similar plan for the Rosenwald until the recession hit a decade ago and the developers sold the building to the city.

The city’s Cultural Services Department took ownership before turning it over to the Planning Department’s Metropolitan Redevelopment Agency that promotes redevelopment in distressed neighborhoods, giving potential buyers flexibility with the sale price.

City Council’s Senior Policy Analyst Chris Malendris said the real estate market isn’t strong enough to fetch top dollar, so the city hands over property at a deep discount to spur on development like locals have seen downtown with the land where the Imperial building went up and where the new One Central building will be.

It’s a tough blow to taxpayers, considering the city bought the Rosenwald building in 2007 during the recession for $1.68 million and it was appraised in 2017 for $875,000, according to the city.

In a statement to KRQE, the city says the sale saves about $50,000 in annual maintenance costs and at least $710,000 “just to get the property infrastructure to a functional level.”

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