Portales looking to jump-start large residential development

By Tony Parra

Portales city officials are in talks with Artistic Homes developers out of Albuquerque about building a housing development in Portales that would have between 70 and 100 homes.

Portales Mayor Orlando Ortega said the proposed project would have homes ranging from $80,000 to $120,000. City councilors by general consensus instructed Ortega, City Manager Debi Lee, and Economic Development Director Jeremy Sturm to move forward with planning for a possible development next to the Portales Country Club golf course.
“We have a great opportunity with Artistic Homes,” Ortega said. “The next step is the planning and finding out the cost of developing the land.”

City councilors approved spending up to $9,000 for a consulting firm to do the design work on plat for the land. Lee said the money would pay for the planning firm to complete a design with cost estimates for developing the land, utility hook-ups, curb and gutter and pavement.

Lee said she and Sturm plan to assemble cost estimates and conceptual designs to formally present to the council within 30 days. She said they would probably apply for financial assistance from the New Mexico Mortgage and Finance Authority by April.

Artistic Homes is asking Portales to develop the land site.
Ortega said the city could eventually recover those development costs as they sell the improved land to developers.

“They feel confident in selling 100 homes and want future considerations,” Ortega said. “It’s a big cost (developing the land). They want it all developed at once.”

Lee said she was unaware of other residential developments in Portales’ past that included these kinds of incentives. But councilors in attendance at the meeting seemed to think the plan had merit.

City Councilor Mike Miller said he likes the idea and wants to see about the possibility of having a private land developer do the site work.

Ortega said he spoke with local home builders about a housing project first. Ortega said the consensus was that they were too busy and couldn’t abandon current customers to take on such a big project.

According to Ortega, the need was derived from a housing market analysis which showed there was an immediate need for 300 homes. Ortega said the analysis showed that Portales residents looking for homes were staying with family, renting or living in Clovis.

Ortega said in meetings with officials from the biggest employers in Portales such as Eastern New Mexico University, Sunland Peanuts Inc., Roosevelt General Hospital, DairiConcepts and Abengoa Bioenergy, they expressed a need for more housing for their workers.
A survey was sent out to Portales residents and 458 filled them out as part of the market analysis.

“We met with Lou Moya from Artistic Homes last Friday (Jan. 13) and she was very excited about that (survey),” Ortega said. “A need was there. She expressed a need for subcontractors in the community helping with the construction work.”

Ortega said the building of the housing development would create economic impact in the form of construction jobs, property tax revenue and real estate sales.

Artistic Homes Marketing Director Lou Moya could not be reached for comment.

Artistic Homes developers have built housing projects in Albuquerque and Rio Rancho. According to the Artistic Homes Web site, The National Association of Homebuilders research center recognized Artistic Homes with the 2002 Energy Value Housing Award for the nation’s best energy efficient home design and construction for their homes in a moderate climate region.