Updated: Wednesday, 16 Jun 2010, 6:16 PM MDT
Published : Wednesday, 16 Jun 2010, 4:40 PM MDT
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) - A federal indictment returned against the developers of the stalled Anasazi Downtown building has put the project in limbo.
Vincent Garcia, David Garcia and Derek Barnhill are charged with bank fraud and money laundering. Federal prosecutors accused the developers of defrauding a Kansas bank and an Albuquerque Compass Bank of nearly $2 million in 2007 and 2008.
Jason Bowles, the attorney for the trio, said there was no criminal intent on the part of the developers. He said they simply couldn’t get the money needed to build after the Kansas bank funding the project was taken over by the federal government.
Bowles said the group never hid any information from their loaning companies.
Work stopped on the downtown building at Central Avenue and 6th Street SW nearly two years ago, and now trash lines the sidewalks, stickers have been posted up by people passing by, and the inside is still filled with unused lumber and concrete. The back side of the empty building is littered with trash and smashed beer bottles. and neighboring businesses said it’s a magnet for the homeless.
The empty building prompted worries by Albuquerque's Safe City Strike Force. The code-enforcement group stopped by a couple weeks ago and easily got in. Inside, they reported finding many safety violations including appliances that had been left behind and unsecured decks.
“Windows hadn't been put in; it was open air,” the city’s public safety spokesperson T.J. Wilham said Wednesday. "You could have just simply walked off the edge and fell 11 stories."
The city sent a letter detailing its concerns to the mortgage company, Citizens Bank & Trust Company, which has taken over the building.
“We have been in contact with the mortgage company, and we are working on figuring out who is going to board it up,” Wilham said.
Downtown Action Team Executive Director Brian Morris said figuring out what will happen to the building is going to be a long and drawn-out process. First, he said, Vincent and David Garcia and Derek Barnhill need to have their day in court. Then the banks need to figure out the finances.
“Hopefully someday either the current developers or someone else can purchase it and make it happen when the economy gets a little bit better,” he said.
The team hopes the planned project won’t simply fade away.
“It's such an important and critical project," Morris said. "We want to see it move forward."
An initial appearance for the developers in federal court is scheduled for June 25 at 9:30 a.m.