ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – It’s been months since a fire burnt down a vacant home in the Huning Highland historic Albuquerque neighborhood. Now, the nonprofit that owns it, is hoping to turn the empty lot into affordable townhomes while still preserving the feel of the neighborhood. “In April of 2023, there was a fire inside the structure that destroyed the structure. There was a little bit of it remaining after the fire was put out, but we had to demolish what was left,” said Lisa Huval with Homewise.

The non-profit group ‘Homewise’ which purchased the property back in 2021, had planned to renovate the building into condos. Now, with the structure gone, they’re looking to build brand new townhomes to fill that spot. “So this is really, instead of being kind of a renovation or rehab project, this is now a new construction project, said Huval.

The plan originally called for six townhomes, one facing the street, and five with entrances along the side. But that could change after the city’s Landmarks Commission and neighbors weighed in on the plans. Though the neighbors who spoke agreed they’d like to see more affordable housing, they said the plan was too dense for the historic neighborhood.

They want to see changes, like how far the homes need to be set back from the street. That could mean the design drops from six townhomes to five. “The setback was very important to the two of us neighbors on each side of this property, and that it be aligned with our two properties,” said one neighbor.

“I’m interested in seeing the affordable housing component added to this neighborhood, I wish you’d adhere to the design characteristics that are important and that have been maintained through this neighborhood for so many years,” said another.

Either way, Homewise says this would help bring more housing to a city in dire need. “So this helps fit into that big picture of just making sure there’s more homes out there for you know, high quality homes for purchase,” said Huval.

The Landmarks Commission has pushed back its approval of the project to give developers time to make the changes that meet their standards.