Portales officials to consider housing options

By Tony Parra: PNT Staff Writer

Portales city officials are considering using land located next to the golf course to build between 70 and 100 houses for Portales residents and are exploring options on how to do that.

Portales Mayor Orlando Ortega said city officials are interested in using about 45 acres of the 150 acres the city owns by the golf course.

“We’re excited about the opportunities,” Ortega said. “Our goal is to meet the housing needs of the growing community and be able to provide affordable housing.”

One of the options is to utilize a $430,000 loan from the New Mexico Finance Authority, a state department. Ortega said this would allow city officials to partner with local builders, Artistic Homes of Albuquerque or other interested developers to build homes on the land with prices of $80,000 to $120,000 each.

The city would use the loan for construction of the curb and gutter and someone like Artistic Homes would build the homes and handle sales of the homes.

The second option would be to work with another group, the New Mexico Mortgage Finance Authority, a non-profit organization, which helps address housing needs in the state. Ortega said an application through the Workforce Housing Development program will be on the agenda for the Tuesday city meeting. If approved, city administrators would apply for a feasibility study as the first phase of the project.

Applicants must be willing to pay 1/3 of the cost of the feasibility study, according to the NMMFA Web site. That would mean Portales would be responsible for $20,000 to $50,000 of the feasibility study that has a total cost ranging between $60,000 and $150,000.

Ortega said UniDev, the master developers, would research and put together a housing market analysis. According to Ortega, UniDev of St. Louis works with Jaynes Corp. construction company of Albuquerque to build housing projects in rural communities. NMMFA has contracts with UniDev and Jaynes Corp. to provide these services.

The deadline for the application is Aug. 11.

Debi Lee, Portales city manager, requested not approving the NMFA loan from the state, yet, and to pursue the award of developer services from the NMMFA non-profit organization instead. The city councilors approved the request during the July 18 city meeting.

Ortega said a resolution has been placed on the Tuesday city meeting agenda in support of the NMMFA application. City council approval to gain a 90-day extension from the NMFA allows Lee to pursue the feasibility study services before accepting the $400,000 NMFA loan.

“We still need the loan,” Lee said. “We can use it as leverage to entice development. The 90-day extension allows us to lock in interest rates.”
Ortega said a new mission for Cannon Air Force Base, new jobs created by industry and dairy expansions are some of the factors driving the need for housing, along with projected growth.