ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – An Albuquerque business in danger of being shut down by the City, is pushing back. The Adam Food Market on East Central is challenging a lawsuit the city filed, calling the store a crime magnet.
“By taking business away from Central and from that area, they are just encouraging more crime to occur there,” says Britany Schaffer, attorney for Ahmad Assed & Associates.
Britany Schaffer represents the Adam Food Market at Central and Pennsylvania. She says the City went too far by filing its February lawsuit, calling the store a “problem property.”
APD says they responded to hundreds of calls and half a dozen homicides at or near the business over two years. The lawsuit calls for the store to close for three years and pay for the city’s security expenses.
Now the market has filed a motion to dismiss the suit in order to stay in business. The property owner’s attorney says the city is punishing a small business for simply being in a rough part of town.
“The city is asking to buy Walmart down the block where criminal activity in their parking lot was rampant, but of course they wouldn’t try to take that property in the same fashion as they are now by calling it a public nuisance,” says Wayne Baker, attorney for Law Office of Wayne Baker.
Residents say closing the store would take away a critical community resource.
“There’s nothing else in this area. So this population needs to be able to go you know get a little bit of groceries or something you know,” says anonymous resident.
Schaffer says the market has already suffered due to the negative publicity, with a drop in revenue averaging two-thousand dollars a day.
Schaffer says the city is also trying to use the nuisance abatement ordinance to shut down the store. She warns it could be a slippery slope for other businesses.
“It’s so broad and so vague that it allows for the City to take any property where criminal activity or civil offenses occur.”
We reached out to the City for comment. They said they have not received the motion yet, but are committed to addressing nuisance properties in the community.