By Karl Terry: PNT Managing Editor
Two steps forward and one step back would describe economic development plans in Portales lately. Officials say they’re still making headway though.
The former Portales Inn building had been under contract to local developer Larry Combs, but according to city and Portales MainStreet officials, that deal fell through late last year.
MainStreet acquired the property last year in a three-way real estate swap with Western Bank. Now the process of marketing the property has started over.
MainStreet President Danny Woodward said ownership of the property hasn’t placed them under any real financial pressure to turn it over. He says the pressure comes with the group’s desire to see an appropriate developer working with the property to spur downtown growth.
“It’s still a good deal,” Woodward said. “It’s a better situation where it’s in our hands rather than a bank. We want it to be a win-win for everybody.”
Woodward and Portales City Manager Debi Lee said the property has had several interested buyers but no one is under contract at this point.
Compounding problems, according to Lee, is a spate of vandalism at the property that caused an estimated $7,000 damage.
Lee said a group of high school students was connected with the crime and agreed to help clean up the inside of the hotel top to bottom. The group filled five 30-yard refuse containers on a recent Saturday.
“They’re really good kids, they just made a bad choice,” Lee said, expressing relief the property was cleaned up.
“We had a team of five or six individuals that had expressed an interest in purchasing the property, and we had to show it in a busted-up condition,” Lee said.
Lee said an inventory of available property in the Portales business district has been completed, and plans are being made for a team to travel to a retail convention in Las Vegas, Nev., to recruit businesses for the vacancies.
Lee also said city officials and economic development groups in town are working to come up with an agreement that will bring an economic development recruiter onboard, in a remolding of the position vacated by Kim Huffman, who served as economic development director and Chamber of Commerce executive director.