Small strip of landscaping at Old Albuquerque High Lofts leads to court battle

Local News

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – When developers started converting the Old Albuquerque High School into lofts, it brought new life into East Downton. But now, the city said those developers aren’t living up to their end of the bargain.

You know the phrase, the grass is always greener on the other side. In this case, the grass is not greener on the other side of this complex. A small landscaping strip is now the center of a court battle.

“Once we’re inside the gate, it’s like our own little world,” said Ruth Archambault.

Archambault takes pride living at the Old Albuquerque High School Lofts. She said it’s one of EDo’s crowning jewels to live in, and for the most part, it’s well-preserved, except for one spot.

“It wasn’t really maintained very well,” said Archambault. “It’s just one strip and it has a number of trees on it, and the strip, maybe at one time had grass?”

Next to the Manual Arts Building inside the complex, the small strip of landscaping is causing big problems. “All the city wants is for the grass to be installed, according to that landscaping plan,” said CABQ interim planning director Brennon Williams.

The city said years ago, they made a deal with developers at the Old High School, saying developers need to keep the nice, historical aesthetic from the structures to the landscaping. However, the city said the developer that oversees that plot of dirt, isn’t keeping their end of the deal.

“In this situation, the approved plan requires the area below the trees in that patch include living grass, not dead grass, not missing grass, but grass, green grass that is alive and thriving,” said Williams.

The city said it’s exhausted all efforts to work with the developer, so they’re heading to court. That’s getting some mixed reactions.

“I’m sure they can come to an agreement,” said local Fermin Aguilar. “It’s kind of petty to argue over stuff like that. There’s bigger situations than just that.”

“To go beyond that to court seems a bit petty to me,” said Archambault. “But at the same time, I can understand it if they’ve tried everything else.”

KRQE News 13 reached out to the developers of the Manual Arts Building but haven’t heard back. The city has made similar agreements with other properties across town, like the De Anza Motel, in hopes of preserving buildings.

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