ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - More than four years after construction stopped on downtown Albuquerque's Anasazi building, more obstacles are delaying the project's completion.
The 10-story tower was supposed to be home to luxury condos, shops and restaurants. Now, it is home to vandals. Its walls are covered in graffiti and trash litters the property.
The Anasazi was near completion when bank funding for the $9 million project went under. Developer Vincent Garcia of the Anasazi Downtown LLC was stealing money meant for the project. Garcia plead guilty to one count of bank fraud in August. He faces up to 20 years in prison at sentencing.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation took over the incomplete Anasazi, then sold the mortgage and note to Kentucky-based bank, First Southern National Bank.
Albuquerque attorney William Keleher, who represents the bank, said his client made good on most of the building's bills. All the bank needed was for the courts to officially approve its ownership of the Anasazi, according to Keleher.
"It's a troublesome property, and we need to try to get it finished as quick as we can," said Keleher.
A judge in August denied the bank's summary judgment for foreclosure because of a legal technicality, said Keleher. Keleher said the issue could be resolved if one Albuquerque investor stepped out of the way.
"It would not be a problem if Kurt Lambert agreed to the foreclosure," said Keleher.
Lambert invested close to $200,000 in Garcia's development group in 2007. Lambert declined an interview but told KRQE News 13, he lost all his money and sued Garcia. In return, Lambert became part owner of Anasazi Downtown LLC but did not recoup his investment.
Now, Lambert said he's blocking the bank's deal in court, demanding Anasazi's new owners pay him what he feels he's due.
Keleher said Lambert has no claim in the building. The Anasazi is about $22 million in debt, which has not been paid. Today, the building is worth much less than what it owes.
"It's time to complete the foreclosure, have the sale and get that project finished," said Keleher.
The potential new owners have asked a district court judge again to approve Anasazi's foreclosure, so it can go ahead and finish the building. No word on when the judge will make her decision.