Portales couple agitated with city over land sale

Tony Parra

A Portales couple denied by the Portales City Council permission to build an apartment on the southwest part of town is upset after learning the city sold land in the same area to an Albuquerque developer planning a similar project.
In May, plans submitted by Victor and Linda Baca to build a multi-family residential apartment complex near the Western Skies Subdivision at 1663 S. Roosevelt Rd. were denied.
The Portales City Council — along with the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission — denied the proposal because of concerns from the Western Skies community that the apartments would increase the amount of parties, loud music, crime and area transients.
Last week the city council approved the sale of more than six acres of city-owned land at the west corner of Avenue T and New Mexico Highway 267, located north of the Western Skies community, for $154,000 to Jonathan Reed & Associates out of Albuquerque.
“They (city council) didn’t even review (our proposal),” Baca said. “They turned us down because of their (Western Skies residents) complaints. They said it was going to increase the crime rate and increase parties. They had no basis for their arguments. Nothing to back them up.”
City Inspector Doug Rapp said the two plots of land — about 1/4 of a mile apart — are worlds apart as far as the area’s community is involved.
“They are two completely different areas,” Rapp said. “They (Westside Village Subdivision future residents) are going to be using Highway 70. The others (Baca apartments) were going to use the University Avenue which would have affected the residents of the Western Skies Subdivision, 801 Housing and the west campus housing of ENMU. The residents it would affect, would be the ones across from Highway 70.”
Albuquerque developer Jonathan Reed said he plans on building a 60-unit multi-family housing complex to be called the Westside Village Subdivision. He said lack of competition from other developers, government funding and a need for housing were among the main reasons he chose Portales for the project.
Reed said the New Mexico Mortgage Finance Authority awards bonus points for working in Roosevelt County because it has a high rate of low-income families.
“We have to have it (project) approved by the federal government which can help with about two-thirds the cost of the project,” Reed said. “That means we need to borrow less money and it allows us to offer a lower rent of about $300 to $500 a month.”
Baca said he proposed the building of a similar project, which would consists of a 30-home complex on four acres of land. According to Baca, the apartments would house professionals and Eastern New Mexico University students who are not eligible to live at Reed’s proposed complex due to federal regulations involved with low-income housing funded by the government.
“We found out all of the information we needed such as demographics; we talked to university police,” Baca said. “We did all that and they (city council) didn’t even review our documents. They could have at least tabled it for further discussion.”