ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - It was going to be the new signature building in Downtown Albuquerque. Instead, it sat unfinished for almost four years as a monument to the recession and a crooked scheme. But there's finally some hope for the nine-story Anasazi building.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., which took control of the building, sold the note and mortgage of the Anasazi to Kentucky-based First Southern National Bank last August. Since then, the bank has been making good on some of the project's outstanding payments, according to the bank's Albuquerque-based attorney William Keleher.
"There were some construction liens against the property," said Keleher. "When Anasazi Downtown LLC failed, they didn't pay a bunch of people."
Construction on the project stopped in October 2008, when the bank funding the project went under and the developer was charged with stealing bank funding meant for the project. Vincent Garcia pleaded guilty to bank fraud last year and is awaiting sentencing, according to federal court documents.
Keleher wouldn't say how much First Southern National Bank paid to clear debts or how much it paid to take over the building. But it was appraised at $4.5 million last summer.
"I know my client will want to proceed as quickly as they can to get the thing completed," said Keleher.
Keleher said the bank just needs to courts to officially approve its ownership at a summary judgment hearing scheduled in August. Once that happens, a foreclosure sale would be held for the building, which the bank will bid on, according to Keleher.
Keleher said construction could re-start as early as October.
Mayor R.J. Berry, who threatened to demolish the building last summer if the FDIC didn't do something, said finishing the Anasazi is a top priority. A spokesman for the administration said the mayor is glad the project is moving forward but said the city still has a right to step in if the building continues to be a nuisance.
"Whoever becomes the owners of the Anasazi, the city is going to hold their feet to the fire," said Deputy Chief Administrative Officer Gilbert Montano. "The future of this building could be one of the greatest gems downtown."
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