UNM planning to demolish vacant Albuquerque Elks Lodge building

It was a place for fun—weddings, dances, families taking their kids there for swim lessons—but soon, the old Elks Club in Albuquerque will be no more. After sitting vacant for so many years, it will be demolished, making room for something new.

You’ve probably noticed it just off University and I-40—an empty, boarded up eye-sore that once housed a social club in its heyday.

“It was built in 1962, and so it used to belong to the city as the old Elks Club,” said UNM HSC Projects Manager Ryan Reynolds.

The Elks Lodge was the popular place to go for social gatherings and at one time had a pool where families took their children for swim lessons. When the Elks moved out, UNM bought the building in 2006 with no real purpose for it.

“We used it for various things like storage, administrative office buildings, things like that,” said Reynolds. “Over the years, operations, strategic initiatives sort of shifted and it turned into a warehouse.”

UNM said when they stopped using the building as a warehouse a few years ago, that’s when the problems started. Even after boarding up the place and putting up signs, UNM police said homeless people still found a way inside, making it their home and doing a lot of damage.

“I mean, it’s beyond economical repair for renovation,” said Reynolds. “The first time we walked the property it was riddled with needles, it was riddled with…you could see smoke damage from the ceilings, the copper wire was pulled and there was significant roof leaks.” 

UNM police said trespassers somehow even built a concrete skate park there.

“Yeah, there are issues in the neighborhood with it’s proximity to downtown and freeways,” said Kent Cravens, ABQ Association of Realtors.

UNM wants those problems to go away, so it’s willing to spend more than half a million dollars to demo and fill the site.

“It’s good to see things are changing and maybe something will be happening and growing in this area in a better direction,” said Cravens.

The building will be demolished in the fall. As for the future plans of the site, UNM said it’s waiting for the University’s HSC master plan to come out before moving forward.

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