ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The City of Albuquerque is shelling out more than a half-million dollars for a small piece of property right next to a park known for homelessness. The city just closed on the deal to buy the old Dubois, Cooksey & Bischoff law office at 2040 Fourth Street NW, right next to Coronado Park near Second Street & I-40.
While the city says the property acquisition isn’t directly linked to the Gateway Center homeless shelter project, the effort is clearly an effort to address the homeless issue at Coronado Park. The city is planning on moving employees to the property by the end of the year. In a press release sent out by the Department of Municipal Development Friday, DMD director Pat Montoya called the property “a prime location for deploy out teams.”
“We feel like this is a really great location to help the people that need it with the services that we can provide them,” said Johnny Chandler, spokesman for the Department of Municipal Development. “We know that this is important to the city, it’s important to the mayor, we want to help (people) as much as we can.”
The city’s so-called “Bischoff Property” is a nearly 6,000 square foot, two-floor vacant office building with an additional roughly 500 square feet of storage on-site. The city hopes to have employees working out of the building by years end, likely from city security and other departments including Parks and Rec, Solid Waste, Family and Community Services, or the Fire Department.
The property purchase comes months after the city suspended immediate plans for the Gateway Center homeless shelter project. In February 2020, the city labeled Coronado Park as one of the top three sites for the future shelter. In May, the city announced it would be effectively rebooting the project.
The city says the property purchase has nothing to do with a future shelter and that no potential sites have been for the Gateway Center. However, the city acknowledged Friday that Coronado Park is a hub for the homeless and the city needs a bigger presence there.
“This is a strategic opportunity for the city to get a building, a facility that’s in good shape and can be a very useful location for us,” said Lawrence Rael, the city’s chief operating officer. “Especially as we work on the issues of Coronado Park and the issues of homelessness, in and around the downtown area, so part of the uses of the building will incorporate a lot of the work that we’re doing with our homeless encampment.”
The city is paying $550,000 for the property. KRQE News 13 asked the Mayor Friday if the city thought it was getting a good deal considering that may have gone for a different amount on the private market based on what happens at Coronado Park.
Rael said the purchase price was “right in line” with what a building of its size condition would cost for procurement. Prior online listing prices for the property show the property was listed for $695,000. By law, the city can only pay the appraised value of the property, which also factors in the value of other surrounding buildings.
The city says the building is move-in ready, but it’s planning to do some minor renovations before moving employees in. It’s unclear how much that will cost.