ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Bernalillo County’s new move into a consolidated downtown headquarters means the City of Albuquerque is working to fill extra space in its main downtown office building. The move is also pushing the city to pick up the tab to purchase and renovate the county’s old office space.

Albuquerque and Bernalillo County’s governments have shared one large building at Civic Plaza near 3rd Street and Marquette since the ’80s. By the end of the summer, the city expects Bernalillo County to clear out of office space at the formerly joint government center.

In order to take over the county’s old space, the city is shelling out millions of dollars in a one-time payment. The purchase was initially pitched to Albuquerque City Councilors during an April 2021 budget meeting.

“The big one is the purchase and remodeling of the city-county building at 11 million,” said Albuquerque Budget Officer Lawrence Davis during an April meeting in front of Albuquerque City Councilors. “The city-county (building) buyout is $5.5-million and that leaves another $5.5-million for remodeling when the county moves out.”

Comparatively, Bernalillo County has spent at least $68 million over the last four years to purchase and renovate its new headquarters at Alvarado Square. That building near 4th Street and Gold has been vacant for around a decade after its prior tenant PNM moved out.

On Civic Plaza, the City of Albuquerque is still figuring out what to do with its to-be-vacated space in the 11-floor building. Over the next several months, the city’s Department of Municipal Development will perform a “space allocation assessment” of the building. The effort will likely suggest the consolidation of some of the city’s remote departments back into city hall.

The city’s Department of Senior Affairs is currently in office space outside of City Hall. Parks and Rec is another department with an offsite office near Fourth Street and I-40. The city also has several departments housed in the pyramid-shaped Plaza del Sol building near 2nd and Lomas.

“We anticipate that the county will be out of (the city hall) building right around the middle of August,” said Pat Montoya, director of Albuquerque’s Department of Municipal Development. “We do have a plan for re-allocating space to existing departments, as well as moving three or four other departments to this building, we will be able to consolidate and improvise and make better use of the space we have here.”

While the city says it might save some money by moving everyone to the same building, they haven’t said how much they anticipate in cost savings. If the city didn’t pay the county for its stake in the joint facility at Civic Plaza, the original joint agreement between the city and county gives either side permission to sell half of the building on the private market.