ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Neighbors say a southeast Albuquerque strip mall is a crime-ridden eyesore and now they’re asking the city to force the private property owners to do something about it.
The Parkland Heights Shopping Center at San Mateo Boulevard and Kathryn Avenue southeast is boarded up and empty. However, that hasn’t stopped drug dealers, transients and criminals from finding their way in.
“This kind of sits on everyone’s heart, you know?” said Helen Petropoulos, speaking about the neighborhood strip mall.
For Helen and other neighbors, it’s easy to see that the Parkland Heights Shopping Center isn’t what it used to be.
“This site looks like to me its been abandoned,” said Letitia Tomaszewski, a concerned neighbor living near the shopping center.
“It affects our quality of life,” said Petropoulos.
The old strip mall has been empty for about a decade. Now there’s a fence circling the building, which at one time used to house a drug store, a bakery, a grocery store and a Five and Dime.
But Petropoulous and Tomaszewski say the two building property has now become dangerous for the neighborhood and the kids that walk nearby.
“There was actually a murder here,” said Tomaszewski, referring to a February shooting that took place along Kathryn on Super Bowl Sunday.
However, neighbors are now pushing the city to force a change on the property.
“I think we’re going to get it done,” said Petropoulous.
“Absolutely,” replied Tomaszewski.
“Our message to the mayor is we’re happy that Albuquerque is blossoming, but it’s not blossoming every where,” said Petropoulous.
They’ve launched a petition on Change.org which asks the city to force the owners to demolish it.
“Make it a matter of public record that we want this changed,” said Petropoulous.
“We want something safe for our kids,” said Tomaszewski.
The group behind it is calling themselves “United for Change ABQ.” So far, around 300 people have signed on to the petition. The city says it’s hearing the neighborhood loud and clear.
“We’re working together the best we possibly can with a private developer, to make sure the process is seamless,” said Gilbert Montano, Chief of Staff for Mayor R.J. Berry’s office.
The mayor’s office also told KRQE News 13 Thursday that the owner says it’s planning to demolish the building along Kathryn, while keeping and remodeling the building along San Mateo. It’s unclear when that will happen though.
Some neighboring business owners like Malcolm Cooper are also encouraging the project, hoping to see something new soon.
“And it would make the neighborhood look a lot better,” said Cooper, owner of the “In Tha Kut” Barbershop.
In 2012, the city came up with a plan to redevelop pieces of the International District neighborhood, including the land the strip mall is on. That plan called for both retail and family housing to be developed on the land. There’s also been talk of a grocery store going in at the strip mall site, but the city says nothing is official there yet.