City of Rio Rancho hesitant to approve plans turning hotel into apartments

New Mexico News

RIO RANCHO, N.M. (KRQE) – A developer wants to turn an old hotel and restaurant into ‘luxury’ apartments but the City of Rio Rancho isn’t sold on the idea.

“Rio Rancho is so under commercial propertied. So, when I see something going from commercial to residential, I like to get a lot of facts about it, and this is on 528. It’s primarily a commercial district. There’s a lot of commercial property in the area,” said Rio Rancho Mayor Gregg Hull.

The Inn at Rio Rancho and Toro Bar and Grill is currently sitting empty. The development company, 528 Development, wants to turn the hotel rooms into what they call luxury studio apartments or extended stay units; that they believe would be very appealing to young professionals.

“I think it’s gonna draw a tremendous amount of the workforce from that area from Intel all the way to Rust Medical to devour these suites,” said Tyler Gerard with 528 Development.

The property, at 528 and Sara Road, would be made up of 106 units. Gerard plans on putting a new, local restaurant into the shuttered Toro Bar and Grill space. There would be nine different room styles and rent would cost anywhere between $750 to $1,500.

To do all of this, work would require a zoning change from the City of Rio Rancho. While the promise of luxury sounds nice, the developer didn’t present any renderings of what the rooms, buildings, or new landscaping may look like.

Mayor Hull expressed concern about the lack of details, along with the fact that the developer was pushing this property like apartment buildings or extended stay units.

“I guess I’ll just come right out and say it, is it going to be like a flophouse or a stopover for people that becomes an even higher magnet or attractor for crime?” said Hull.

In the end, Mayor Hull and council members decided to table the proposal during last week’s city council meeting. They plan on meeting again to discuss the zoning change at the September 24 meeting. The Inn at Rio Rancho was built in 1967 and originally was called the Panorama Inn. Developers would also like to put in a coffee shop and other retail stores.

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