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Virgin Galactic Chooses New Mexico Hotel to House its Future Space Travelers

11 Jul 2014, 7:23 pm

By Anca Gagiuc, Associate Editor

Virgin Galactic has chosen Hotel Encanto de Las Cruces as its first official hotel to serve the needs of its elite passengers who will pay $200,000 each to travel to space from Spaceport America.

Hotel Encanto will be the exclusive Dona Ana County Future Astronaut hotel, upgrading its services to offer a premium experience. Dedicated Guest Concierges will be hired and new rooms, facilities and multi-lingual staff will be added.

Hotel Encanto has already started remodeling works, specially designed for the Virgin Galactic experience, such as guest rooms, the outdoor pool and terraced gardens, as well as the Azul Nightclub & Lounge, a 2,500-square foot seating.

The privately-funded company also announced a contract with World Class Gourmet and Chef Tatsu Miyazaki to provide catering for the travelers during the three-day training session.

“By partnering with Hotel Encanto de Las Cruces and World Class Gourmet, we further our vision of investing in the local New Mexico community while we define the Virgin Galactic astronaut experience,” said Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides. “Future Astronauts will come from around the world to New Mexico, so it’s important that they experience the outstanding local offerings and character as part of their experience.”

The hotel sector in the Southwest region posted its best showing in several years, according to a Marcus and Millichap report. At the beginning of 2014, occupancy in New Mexico has risen to 51.9 percent, 90 basis points higher than one year ago.

Room revenue is slowly regaining its strength, still behind the peak in 2008, but almost 12 percent higher in the first quarter of this year than the previous one. Transactions increased more than 70 percent, supported by the broader access to acquisition debt, while the recovery in property operations intensified bidding.

Photos courtesy of Hotel Encanto.



Moderate-Income Apartments in Downtown Albuquerque Nears Completion

2 Jul 2014, 3:10 pm

By Anca Gagiuc, Associate Editor

The mixed-use project  located at the periphery of Albuquerque’s Central Business District along historic Route 66 is nearing completion. The opening date is set for August 8, reports Albuquerque Business First.

Silver Moon Lodge, whose address is 901 Park Avenue SW, is a moderate-income tax credit project. The development totals 106,307 square feet divided into 141 units displayed on four stories. Prospective residents have 65 one-bedroom units and 86 studio apartments to choose from ranging in size from 429 to 857 square feet.

A 4,500-square-foot retail space located at the corner of Central Avenue and 10th Street is intended for community-serving retail or commercial use. Amenities include a social-gathering patio space on the upper level, a hot tub and swimming pool in the courtyard, clubhouse, exercise facility, recycling center, and bicycle parking and repair shop. Parking is limited, providing less than one space for every six units. However, the property is highly accessible to regional mass transportation.

GFL Properties, headquartered in Portland, Ore., is the owner and general contractor of the residential complex. Dekker-Perich-Sabatini is the architect behind the design of the project. The project has been designed to meet silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program.

Pre-leasing has already started and open houses are scheduled to present some of the community’s features.

Photo courtesy of Silver Moon Lodge.



HB Construction Builds $10M Boys & Girls Club With Funding From J.F Maddox Foundation

25 Jun 2014, 9:44 pm

By Anca Gagiuc, Associate Editor

J.F Maddox Foundation has offered funding for a new $10 million Boys & Girls Club facility at 301 E. Broadway St. in Hobbs. The philanthropic foundation invests in education, community development and social programs.

The general contractor on the project is Albuquerque-based HB Construction.

The new development broke ground early this week. It will encompass 28,000 square feet, replacing the existing club which was originally built in 1969 and that was formerly a Safeway grocery store. Two large gyms, a theater, an art room, administration wing, multi-purpose rooms, and a technology center are part of the project’s design. The outdoor area will feature a garden, a basketball court, a wall ball court, play fields, and a gathering area. The architect for the new facility is RMKM Architecture.

“Hobbs has changed dramatically over the years, but the Club has remained steadfast in its mission to provide a safe and secure place for kids, especially those most at risk,” said J. F Maddox Foundation President Jim Maddox. “The new facility will be a wonderful addition to the revitalization efforts in the downtown area, and we are especially excited about having this state-of-the-art building in an area that is close to the children it serves.”

The Boys & Girls Club of Hobbs currently serves approximately 1,200 children yearly at the Club’s four locations throughout Hobbs, including the Club’s three school-based sites at College Lane Elementary School, Stone Elementary School and Taylor Elementary School.

Photo courtesy of HB Construction



Jane Fonda’s Forked Lightning Ranch Listed for $19.5M

18 Jun 2014, 7:59 pm

By Anca Gagiuc, Associate Editor

North of Albuquerque and near Santa Fe there’s a serene place bathed by Pecos River, a place that Hollywood actress Jane Fonda has been calling home since year 2000. Forked Lightning Ranch has been her escape place; adjacent to Pecos National Historical Park, this property is the middle part of the former 13,000-acre cattle ranch owned by movie star Greer Garson and her husband. She now decided it is time to let go and has put it up for sale.

The transaction is being handled by the Swan Land Co. of Bozeman, Montana. The asking price is of $19,500,000. The 2,300-acre ranch has been built to re-create the look of traditional northern New Mexico dwellings, starting with the 9,585-square foot adobe home with antique doors and beams made of reclaimed wood. Six bedrooms and five bathrooms are complemented by a 20-by-60-foot outdoor swimming pool, and an organic vegetable and herb garden.

A 2,125-square-foot guest house, the “Hacienda”, offers another five bedrooms, three bathrooms and a patio, while the 3,409-square-foot log house adds another two bedrooms. These two are older buildings renovated by the Oscar-winning actress. On site there is an equestrian facility with 12 stalls completed with riding trails and paddocks, as well as a gym with mirrored walls and rubber mat flooring.

Fonda is known to be an inveterate collector and this can be seen throughout the house. The antiques, artwork, rugs, furniture and a literary collection can also be purchased, along with the ranch equipment and machinery. However, these are to be negotiated outside the real estate transaction.

Photos courtesy of Swan Land Company.



Heritage Hotels and Resorts Acquires Eldorado Hotel & Spa

5 Jun 2014, 2:07 am

By Anca Gagiuc, Associate Editor

Eldorado Hotel & Spa, Santa Fe’s 219-room hotel, has been acquired by Heritage Hotels and Resorts in partnership with several co-investors, including insurance executive Randy Talbot.

The transaction has been financed by Washington Federal and First National Bank of Santa Fe, and brokered by Stu Sherman.

“This will be the first time in its history that New Mexican families will own the property,” Heritage said in a news release. Previously the hotel had been owned by a partnership led by the Guardian Life Insurance Co.

Heritage Hotels and Resorts owns three other Santa Fe hotels – Hotel St. Francis, Hotel Chimayó de Santa Fe and The Lodge at Santa Fe – and several properties in Taos, Las Cruces, and Albuquerque. “The Eldorado Hotel & Spa is one of the premier properties in Santa Fe and New Mexico. We are excited to add this property to our collection of culturally designed New Mexico hotels,” Heritage Hotels & Resorts CEO Jim Long stated in the news release.

“Santa Fe is a world class traveler destination. We feel very fortunate for the opportunity, alongside the high quality and tenured Eldorado staff, to provide an experience at the very top of expectations during our visitors stay in this beautiful city and state,” Talbot said in the Heritage statement.

Eldorado was built in 1986 and designed by Santa Fe architect Wayne Lloyd. It offers employment to 200 people. Heritage will take on management responsibilities. The hotel is home to Santa Fe’s largest ballroom, the 4,320-square-foot Anasazi Ballroom, and two additional ones. The 6,488-square-foot Pavilion is the property’s largest event space, currently used to provide meeting and social event space. The Old House restaurant is also inside Eldorado, led by Executive Chef Anthony Smith, rated by Zagat as New Mexico’s best.

Photo courtesy of Eldorado Hotel & Spa



Work to Begin on $80M Expansion of Presbyterian Rust Medical Center

28 May 2014, 9:33 pm

By Anca Gagiuc, Associate Editor

Presbyterian Rust Medical Center in Rio Rancho has been scheduled for an expansion. Construction has started and will materialize into a new patient tower and a cancer center at 2400 Unser Blvd. SE.

The new patient tower will occupy six stories and will include 120 beds, and the cancer center will encompass 21,500 square feet, reports Albuquerque Business First. The total investment will be of $80 million. The general contractor for the expansion project is McCarthy Building Cos. which collaborated with architect Dekker/Perich/Sabatini, keeping the same team structure as on the original Rust project.

The medical center spans over 66 acres and currently is the workplace for 600 people. The new development will make room for 100 more. During construction, patients will access the Emergency Department through the main hospital entrance on Wellspring Blvd. Parking will be available in the lots east of the Physician Office Building adjacent to the hospital and whenever possible, in the lots closest to the main entrance. The current Emergency Department is expected to reopen in March 2015.

The massive expansion is scheduled to be completed in late-2015 to early-2016.

One of the top U.S. commercial builders, McCarthy is headquartered on St. Louis with offices nationwide. The 150 years of existence made them experienced in 44 states and with $3 billion in annual revenues.

Photo courtesy of Dekker/Perich/Sabatini.



NewLife Homes Turns The Sundowner Motel, Former Bill Gates Abode, into Affordable Apt. Community

21 May 2014, 9:43 pm

By Anca Gagiuc, Associate Editor

The Sundowner Motel is famous for its location in the heart of Albuquerque on historic Route 66 and for having served as home to Microsoft founders Bill Gates and Paul Allen in the mid-1970s, but it is no longer what it used to be. The property has been transformed into a residential complex with commercial space for small businesses by NewLife Homes.

The building was originally built in 1959; after the construction of Interstate 40 it entered a difficult period which ended with the motel closing in 2009. The vintage Vegas makeover required over $9 million; the redevelopment now offers 71 studio, one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments for low-, middle-income families and disabled people. Funding includes $5.4 million in Low Income Housing Tax Credits through the Mortgage Finance Authority and $2.1 through the city of Albuquerque’s Workforce Housing Trust Fund. Through an Affordable Housing Program grant, $500,000 was provided by the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas.

The project complies with LEED for HOMES certification and each unit has ENERGY STAR appliances. Moreover, throughout design and construction the developer worked with Green Insight who focuses on finding opportunities for energy savings. Trees have been planted to reduce the local heat island effect, providing shade for at least 50 percent of sidewalks, patios and driveways within 50 feet of the home. Additionally, a system that harvests and stores rainwater has been installed to be used for landscape irrigation.

Taking into account that the majority of its residents do not own vehicles, a parking waiver has been granted so that the site has less parking than required by code. Furthermore, being “pro-public transportation” in an effort to reduce heat-island effect, Sundowner is conveniently located adjacent to a Central Ave bus stop.

Photo courtesy of NewLife Homes



Santa Fe Opera’s ‘Setting the Stage’ Campaign Undertakes $35 Million for Renovation and Expansion

14 May 2014, 4:31 pm

By Anca Gagiuc, Associate Editor

Since New York conductor John Crosby founded the company in 1956 and presented its first performance of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly a year later, The Santa Fe Opera has built up its influence becoming one of the world’s most highly regarded summer opera festivals. The facility it calls home is a major piece of real estate with a splendid fusion of nature through its dramatic adobe theater. The 200-acre facility has its own waste water treatment plant, a feature that no other opera company in the world can claim.

On the stage everything looks flawless—the props, the scenery, the costumes—but off-stage things are different. “There is a critical need to bring our backstage facilities into the 21st century,” said General Director Charles MacFay, and necessary steps toward achieving this goal are in progress. The opera will begin an ambitious three-year renovation program in September 2014, scheduled to be completed in time for the SFO’s 60th anniversary. The work has been carefully scheduled to not disrupt the opera seasons.

The daring project costs $35 million of which $24.3 million has been raised with help from the board of directors and friends of the company. The funds are being divided into three categories: $23 million will be spent on construction, $8 million reserved for upkeep and maintenance, and $4 million to support mainstage programming.

“This multi-year plan has been carefully thought out,” according to MacKay. “It follows the ‘Building a Sound Future’ campaign launched in 2006 during the company’s 50th anniversary season. That project addressed dining, rehearsal and practice facilities, and administrative offices.”

The work will be completed in three phases. Around 36,000 square feet will be renovated and more than 28,000 square feet added to current facilities.

The shop will be relocated and doubled in size, a covered food service will be added, the lavatories will almost double and they will be moved to more convenient locations, the dressing rooms will be refurbished and upgraded and the costume shop will be expanded. More importantly, the backstage and production areas will be renovated and enlarged. The parking lot will be repaved and enlarged and storage warehouses for sets and props will be built.

The architect hired for the new campaign, “Setting the Stage,” is New York-based Juan Matiz of Matiz Architecture & Design, formerly of Polshek Partners, the firm that designed the 1998 theater, and thus fully committed to maintaining the original aesthetic. Harris Consultants will oversee the construction.

Photos courtesy of The Santa Fe Opera.



Former Beach Waterpark Site Listed for Sale for $12.5M; Uptown Square Venture Closed on $3.6M Refinance for Mixed-Use Property

7 May 2014, 10:17 pm

By Anca Gagiuc, Associate Editor

For 18 years the Beach Waterpark has been a staple of the summer for Albuquerque’s children. Unfortunately, it was shut down in 2005 after it received an “unsatisfactory” rating from the Environmental Health Department. A year later everything on site was auctioned off, and ever since the land has remained empty.

The 23-acre lot is located off North Interstate 25 and Montaño and, according to Albuquerque Business First, it is now listed for sale at a price appraised by Sedberry & Associates at $12.5 million. Its location makes it ideal for a mixed-use development, including retail, hotel, restaurants, entertainment, office, and showrooms, while its size makes it suitable for one or multiple developers.

“The restaurant users can be strategically placed along the frontage road with direct frontage road access and maximum visibility to 200,000 cars per day on I-25,” John Sedberry, president of  Sedberry & Associates reported.

On different news, Uptown Square Venture closed a refinance loan for a mixed-use building development with help from EverBank Commercial Real Estate Group. The amount of the transaction was of $3.6 million over a term of 25 years.

“In our business, speed, flexible loan terms and competitive rates are essential to our bottom line,” stated John Whisenant, managing partner, Uptown Square Venture. “Dave Christiansen of Berkadia and the team at EverBank not only made sure the deal closed on time despite market fluctuations, but also provided us with a structure that ensures we can continue to take advantage of other opportunities. We look forward to working with them again for our commercial mortgage needs.”



Nordstrom Rack Enters the Albuquerque Retail Market at Winrock Town Center

30 Apr 2014, 10:21 pm

By Anca Gagiuc, Associate Editor

Well-known Seattle-based Nordstrom Inc. announced its plans to enter the Albuquerque market by opening a Nordstrom Rack at Winrock Town Center in the Uptown corridor. The retail store is scheduled to open in the fall of 2015.

“We’ve long heard from customers in New Mexico that they’d love to have a Nordstrom offering and we’re thrilled to bring a Nordstrom Rack to Albuquerque,” said Geevy Thomas, president of Nordstrom Rack, in a news release. “We believe Winrock Town Center represents a great mix of shopping and entertainment in the area and we look forward to opening our doors next fall.”

Located along Interstate 40, the 83-acre Winrock Town Center is ideally located for Albuquerque and also Santa Fe. Goodman Realty Group is the developer, and Pegasus Retail is exclusively managing the leasing process.

The new Nordstrom Rack store will encompass approximately 33,500 square feet, adding to the over 140 Nordstrom Racks in the U.S. This move represents an important gain for Winrock’s strategy of  adding restaurants, retail, the Regal IMAX theater, and, in the near future, high-end apartments, to its perimeter. Another retailer to enter Winrock is DSW (Designer Shoe Warehouse), also opening its first store in New Mexico.

“Nordstrom Rack is a pivotal retailer in the New Mexico market, adding even more punch to our powerful retail, entertainment and restaurant lineup,” said Colette Wharton, asset manager for Goodman Realty Group.

Still under development, Winrock is said to eventually support 1.5 million square feet of large and small national and local retail. Moreover, 500,000 square feet of office space, 2,000 multifamily units, and boutique hotel, restaurants, and recreational facilities will complete the town center.