ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) - A federal indictment returned against the developers of thestalled Anasazi Downtown building has put the project in limbo.
Vincent Garcia, David Garcia and Derek Barnhill are charged withbank fraud and money laundering. Federal prosecutors accused thedevelopers of defrauding a Kansas bank and an Albuquerque CompassBank of nearly $2 million in 2007 and 2008.
Jason Bowles, the attorney for the trio, said there was nocriminal intent on the part of the developers. He said they simplycouldn’t get the money needed to build after the Kansas bankfunding the project was taken over by the federal government.
Bowles said the group never hid any information from theirloaning companies.
Work stopped on the downtown building at Central Avenue and 6thStreet SW nearly two years ago, and now trash lines the sidewalks,stickers have been posted up by people passing by, and the insideis still filled with unused lumber and concrete. The back side ofthe empty building is littered with trash and smashed beer bottles.and neighboring businesses said it’s a magnet for thehomeless.
The empty building prompted worries by Albuquerque's Safe CityStrike Force. The code-enforcement group stopped by a couple weeksago and easily got in. Inside, they reported finding many safetyviolations including appliances that had been left behind andunsecured decks.
“Windows hadn't been put in; it was open air,” thecity’s public safety spokesperson T.J. Wilham saidWednesday. "You could have just simply walked off the edgeand fell 11 stories."
The city sent a letter detailing its concerns to the mortgagecompany, Citizens Bank & Trust Company, which has taken overthe building.
“We have been in contact with the mortgage company, and weare working on figuring out who is going to board it up,”Wilham said.
Downtown Action Team Executive Director Brian Morris saidfiguring out what will happen to the building is going to be a longand drawn-out process. First, he said, Vincent and David Garcia andDerek Barnhill need to have their day in court. Then the banks needto figure out the finances.
“Hopefully someday either the current developers orsomeone else can purchase it and make it happen when the economygets a little bit better,” he said.
The team hopes the planned project won’t simply fadeaway.
“It's such an important and critical project," Morrissaid. "We want to see it move forward."
An initial appearance for the developers in federal court isscheduled for June 25 at 9:30 a.m.
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