ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – It’s been a huge problem for nearly 20 years. Now, for the first time under a new ordinance, the city is taking legal action against the owners of a building that’s been a nightmare for neighbors.
“We used to come here every day to that store right there. It was a hamburger stand. We used to get 100 hamburgers at a time,” said Albuquerque native Chris Crum, who is also the president of the Vista del Mundo Neighborhood Association.
The good memories Crum has of the plaza at Central and Juan Tabo have long been boarded up. “Back in the day this building here used to be a grocery store,” said Crum.
The old Furrs grocery store shut down in 2001, and as the building got passed along to new owners it kept getting more decrepit. “It’s obviously going to be a magnet for crime,” said Vance Ley of the Willow Wood Homeowners Association.
Neighbors were hoping that pull would weaken when Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller red-tagged the Franklin Plaza building and about 50 other properties in the southeast district last summer, under a then-new ordinance targeting dilapidated commercial properties.
A year later, with boards still in place and parking lights still out, the city says the property owner hasn’t done anything to bring that building up to code.
So now, for the first time under this ordinance, the city filed criminal charges against the California-based owner, Waken Limited Partnership. “I think it probably should’ve been done a dozen years ago, but it’s better late than never,” said Ley.
With the threat of $500 or 90 days in jail for every day the building isn’t working on being compliant, neighbors hope this will be the motivation the owner clearly needs to clean up the property. “I think it would just be a lot better if we did something with it instead of just letting it sit here,” said Crum.
The Planning Department says since the complaint was filed, the owners of that building have reached out to them to work on getting their property up to code.