Friday, July 28, 2006

Albuquerque named top five destination hotspots by Orbitz

New Mexico Business Weekly - 5:25 PM MDT Wednesday Online travel site Orbitz has named Albuquerque as one of the top five future tourist destination hot spots. Albuquerque made the list along with Reykjavik, Iceland; New Orleans; Cape Town, South Africa; and Shanghai, China. However, it did miss Orbitz's list of top five domestic and international destinations during the past five years. Topping that list was Chicago, London, Las Vegas and Cancun, Mexico. Albuquerque was cited for its "hot climate and variety of world class resorts rising in the area," according to an Orbitz release. The International Balloon Fiesta was also cited as a must-see attraction, as well as the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center and Old Town's San Felipe de Neri Church. Orbitz is the third largest online travel company that offers a wide variety of travel products, including airline tickets, lodging, rental cars, cruises and vacation packages. It launched its Web site,, in June 2001. It was named the independent travel Web site with the highest customer satisfaction rate by J.D. Power and Associates

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


The Albuquerque Tribune By Erik SiemersTribune ReporterJuly 24, 2006 A Hollywood studio unveiled plans this morning to build a 50-acre film production campus at Mesa del Sol that could employ up to 2,000 people. Culver Studios of Culver City, Calif., began work last week on what they're calling Albuquerque Studios: a full-service site for film, TV, music videos, commercials and digital media processing. (Pacifica Ventures via U.S. Newswire) "Most of the movies that are not made in Hollywood are made in Canada," Nick Smerigan, executive director of Albuquerque Studios and a managing director with Pacifica Ventures, owners of Culver Studios, said in a news release. "This facility will bring a significant number of these productions, and the jobs that go with them, back to the U.S. where they belong." The studio's owner, Pacifica Ventures, plans an initial $75 million investment in the south Albuquerque development. The company will first have 75 permanent jobs, but that's expected to grow to 2,000 once in full production. Another 900 jobs are expected to be generated from the studio's construction, according to a news release from Mesa del Sol. Work began last week on the first of eight sound stages, to be joined later by production office space, post-production suites and room for set construction. The studios will also have room for set construction, set storage and a large back lot, according to the news release. In total, it's more than 500,000 square feet of buildings. "The availability of quality land, the close proximity to the Albuquerque airport and the incentives offered by the state of New Mexico were the deciding factors," Smerigan said in the news release. (Pacifica Ventures via U.S. Newswire) The state offers a 25 percent tax rebate on in-state spending by film or TV production, along with four-year interest-free loans of up to $15 million for qualifying companies. The studio's development is expected to speed construction of retail services within the 12,900-acre Mesa del Sol. The Forest City Covington NM, LLC, development is projected to bring about 30,000 homes and new job and retail centers to the city's southeast quadrant. Melanie Majors, a spokeswoman for Mesa del Sol, said every home will be within one mile of a village center that will incorporate retail services. Those centers were intended to be phased-in as the development progressed. (Pacifica Ventures via U.S. Newswire) But Albuquerque Studios employees are expected to move in by mid-January, making the need for retail services more immediate, she said. The first village center is expected to begin within a year to 18 months, Majors said. Michael Daly, Forest City's chief operating officer, said that could also include a boutique hotel. According to its Web site, Culver's California studios are the home of classics like "Gone With the Wind," "The Andy Griffith Show," and "Raging Bull" among others. Copyright 2006, The Albuquerque Tribune. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Lofts in Albuquerque’s first skyscraper to cost half-million — minimum

PMBy: Todd Dukart In a city where the average home sells for about $190,000, the cheapest loft in Albuquerque’s oldest skyscraper will cost more than $500,000. Crews are finishing the Banque Lofts inside the old First National Bank building, which was built in 1922. The 27 luxury lofts come with a doorman, valet parking and concierge service, along with a plush interior. “It’s a product that you cannot get anywhere else,” said real-estate agent Alicia Feil with Coldwell Banker Legacy. “It’s time for Albuquerque to have a product like this.” Board of Realtors Director Nancy Kennedy says Albuquerque can support high-end real estate like these luxury lofts. A $1 million loft covers two stories with 2,000 square feet of real estate. That works out to $500 a square foot. Owners say four lofts have been sold, and it should take about a year to sell the rest.

Westland reaches deal for $250M

By Associated PressJuly 21, 2006 Posted 1:10 p.m. The Westland Development Corp. board of directors has accepted a California development company's offer to buy 55,000 acres of Westland property on the West Side for more than $250 million. The deal, which is subject to approval by Westland shareholders, involves land given to Spanish settlers in the early 1700s as the Atrisco Land Grant. The land grant was incorporated in 1967 into Westland Development, which manages the land holdings for thousands of heirs. Westland announced the agreement with SunCal Companies of Irvine, Calif., on Thursday. Steve Greyshock, a spokesman for SunCal, said the company is interested in developing housing on the Westland property. A special shareholders' meeting to vote on the sale is expected before September. Westland has 794,927 shares, each of which counts toward a vote. Two-thirds of the votes must favor a sale for it to go through. James Aranda of Concerned Heirs of Atrisco said his group is opposed to any sale of Westland. The group has about 200 members, but it's not clear how many shares it controls. "People are willing to sell out their heritage for, what, $10,000? What is that? It's nothing," Aranda said. Westland attorney Robert Simon said the agreement with SunCal gives Westland the right to talk with other people interested in making legitimate offers for the land. The agreement also establishes a cultural heritage fund paid out as $1 million a year for the next 100 years and the creation of Atrisco Oil & Gas LLC, a company that will handle oil and gas exploration on the Westland property. In the past year, three companies had bid on Westland. Westland originally had announced plans in August to sell the land to ANM Holdings Inc. for about $200 a share. Sedora Holdings of Nevada pushed the per-price share to $305, up from $280 offered by SunCal. SunCal upped the price to $315 a share June 7, and Sedora failed to counter the offer by the July 17 deadline, according to a Westland news release.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

County housing prices up, market steady

Wednesday, July 19, 2006 Clara Garcia News-Bulletin Staff Writer; Looking for a home in Valencia County? You'll probably be paying more than $100,000. According to the Southwest Multiple Listing Service (MLS), there were 748 homes sold in Valencia County in 2005 at an average sale price of $154,880. In 2004, 655 homes sold at an average of $133,504. These figures do not include new houses being sold by builders or homes sold directly by homeowners. There are still bargains available, especially if you're willing to live a little farther from the freeways heading to Albuquerque. Valencia County's housing market remains steady as home sales and average sale prices increased during June compared to a year ago, according to figures released this week by the Valencia County Board of Realtors. Some 142 previously owned homes sold in the county during June compared to 108 for the same period last year, according to Phyllis Laureta, president of the Valencia County Board of Realtors. "The numbers are not changing all that much," Laureta said. "We've been pretty stable. When you look at the active listings, there's not a big change. In Valencia County, we're still in a seller's market. Overall, from last year to this year, our inventory has been pretty stable so we're still in a good and relatively stable market." According to Olinda Reneau, the chief appraiser for the Valencia County Assessor's Office, the number of new homes built in the county continues to grow at a rapid rate. In 2004, there were 241 homes built compared to 326 in 2005. There were 495 new homes were added to the property tax rolls for 2006, which run a year ahead. So far, 288 newly constructed homes have been reported for the 2007 assessments. The market is determined by supply and demand. The more properties for sale, the better for the buyer. "If we have less than six month's supply, then the sellers can be pretty firm on their prices," Laureta explained in an interview Monday. "They have to be reasonable, but they can be firm. So buyers aren't in a position where they can come in and offer $20,000 less than list price and expect to get it because there aren't a whole lot of homes out there for buyers to look at and choose." Currently, there are 295 site-built homes listed in Valencia County — a four month's supply, Laureta said. Therefore, buyers can't be really aggressive in their bargaining and sellers can expect to get a fair market value close to the appraised value on their homes. According to Laureta, Valencia County's housing market typically changes rather slowly. She said while the average sale price of homes has increased over the past several years, the county has been a market with gradually appreciating home values. "The average sale price doesn't measure appreciation. It only measures the ability of the consumer to buy," she explained. "Appreciation is measured by what homes in a neighborhood sold for several years ago compared to today. The average sale price indicates the ability of the consumer to purchase; and the very low interest rate made it possible for the consumers to purchase a higher price home because it kept the monthly payments low." The most important thing for buyers to know is how much their monthly mortgage payment is going to be, Laureta said. The market has been able to see a higher average sale price because of the lower interest rate. Laureta estimates that the appreciation rate of homes in the county increases between 3 to 5 percent every year. When interest rates averaged at 5.5 percent in 2004, the market experienced the largest increase in home sales in recent history. When interest rates go up, it puts a lid on the appreciation values because it slows down the buyer's capability to purchase. "Now, we're up around 7 percent," Laureta said. "Historically, that's still a very good interest rate." Laureta, who is a Realtor with Coldwell Banker in Los Lunas, said Valencia County's appreciation rate is slower than that of its neighbors to the north. Albuquerque has experienced a more rapid appreciation rate compared to Valencia County, but their market also has tended to cool more, she said. "They're seeing a fluctuation of homes staying on the market longer. I think stable markets are good because they're good for the economy, they're good for homeowners and home buyers. I think we're blessed when we have a more stable market." Currently, homes are selling, on average, within four months in the county. While there are properties that take longer to sell, it's not uncommon when homes sell the same day that they're put on the market. While the re-sale inventory has not fluctuated dramatically, site-built homes listed at less than $100,000 are getting harder to come by. In June, a total of 12 homes in that category were listed compared to 35 during the same month last year. "There's hardly anything left under $100,000," Laureta said. "We used to be able, in Valencia County, to find homes for less than $100,000 in the resale residential market. "In the resale market, I'd say that has been the biggest change," she said. "Right now, to buy a home ready to live in, you're going to have to look over 100,000. "If someone is looking for a house for less than $100,000, we may have to look at either a manufactured home or certain areas of the county such as Carson Park, Rio Communities or the Belen area. There are very few homes under $100,000 in Los Lunas. And a buyer will be hard pressed to get into new construction under $145,000." According to the June figures, there were 59 homes listed for resale in the $100,000 to $150,000 range, 68 in the $150,000 to $200,000 range and 54 homes in the $200,000 to 250,000 range. Thirty-eight homes were listed in the $250,000 to $300,000 range, 45 in the $300,000 to $350,000 range and 20 homes selling for more than $500,000 Reneau estimated that the average cost of the new homes being built in Valencia County range in price between $180,000 to $190,000. She also reported that 90 percent of the new homes, most of which are located in Huning Ranch, have been sold. "The county is growing rapidly," Reneau said when asked if the volume of new homes is increasing. "Most of it has to do with the subdivisions by the freeway in Los Lunas. A lot of people are buying for access to the freeway — it's an ideal area." Reneau said the overall cost of homes is on the rise because of the supply and demand of the local housing market. She said more and more people are moving into Valencia County. "We're seeing a lot of out-of-state money," she said. "There was one particular investor from California who bought a lot of the homes (in Los Lunas) to rent." Similar to the Albuquerque market, the price of property bought and sold in Valencia County varies from area to area. A home with an identical floor plan in a home in Las Maravillas is going to be thousands of dollars less than the same model located in the Village of Los Lunas. Easy access to the freeway is one factor, Laureta explained. People are willing to spend more for that convenience. Location definitely dictates value of the home. "If you look at homes in Meadow Lake and El Cerro Mission, those are our depressed markets and you can really buy a lot of house for your money there," she said. "But I always tell potential buyers who call on an (advertisement), if the price looks too good to be true, there's a reason. There is a reason it's priced the way it is and location has a big impact on how much a home will sell for." There are other things that impact the price of a home such as the amenities, the quality of the construction, the condition of the home. When Realtors do a market analysis, they choose homes of a similar age and condition sold in the past six months in a two-mile radius. This is how they can tell homeowners what potential buyers would pay this for their homes. So what time if the year is best to buy and sell a home? According to Laureta, in Valencia County, as well as in other areas across the country, the busiest time is during the summer months. "A lot of people, especially if they have to change school districts, like to do it before school starts," she said. "We tend to have stronger activity in late spring and early summer months. We do sell homes year round — in fact, we have had people move into their homes a week before Christmas." The need to sell or buy a home is usually dictated by the individual need of the consumer. Realtors sell and list homes all year, but the summer months are typically stronger. While the MLS listing doesn't provide numbers of newly built site homes, Laureta said there have been a large number of homes built and sold in Huning Ranch in a short period of time. The new construction has actually been positive for the resale market in Valencia County because often, people who are living in older homes are deciding to buy the new homes, she said. "That supports the resale market as well," she said. "It's actually been positive for us." Laureta projects that the population in Valencia County will continue to grow as people living in Albuquerque and other parts of the metro region seek a more rural atmosphere. "People in Albuquerque have already moved to the west and to the east, so I think we're going to see the population move out this way," she said. "I believe the commuter train will have a positive impact as far as having new people come in. It will make it possible for people to live in Valencia County and work in Albuquerque and as far away as Santa Fe. "Both Belen and Los Lunas are doing a wonderful job in trying to attract industry to provide employment. It seems to me that these two municipalities are working hard to keep people working and living in Valencia County," she said. "We have a lot of people living here and working in Albuquerque. Our prices here are still more affordable. A lot of people move here because they want a more rural lifestyle."

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Eminent Domain Limited in Rio Rancho

Eminent Domain Limited in Rio Rancho The Rio Rancho City Council recently voted to pass restrictions against seizing residential homes or commercial businesses for redevelopment. The city has used eminent domain to seize property at least twice in the last two years and attempted a third time in February 2006, but failed after meeting strong resistance from property owners. Opponents call the process a political tool to coerce property owners and reward developers. Read the full story about the council’s unanimous vote in New Mexico Business Weekly. ****************************


Good News for New Mexico Schools New Mexico has received more than $12 million from the US Education Department to increase the number of charter schools in the state, the Associated Press reports. The funds will be made available over the next three years to plan, design, and create the new charter schools. State Public Education Secretary Veronica Garcia says 90 percent of the federal money will go to charter schools in the form of planning and implementation grants. The state agency also will work to improve the approval process for charter schools and make sure that parents and students are informed about charter school options. Read NAR’s look at the effect of charter schools on neighborhood quality of life.

Thursday, July 06, 2006


By Amy Wolff Sorter WWW.GLOBEST.COM Tonjes ALBUQERQUE- With its state motto being "the Land of Enchantment," New Mexico conjures up images of sprawling vistas and colorful buttes with a river thrown in here and there. What it might not conjure up, however, is a growing population with a booming residential and commercial development in its wake. New Mexico in general and Albuquerque in particular have entered the business and real estate consciousness as a strong location for growth and development. Sandia National Laboratories, under its Microsystems and Engineering Sciences Application project, is developing a 400,000-sf spread in three buildings, valued at approximately $500 million. Intel Corp. is undergoing a $750-million upgrade of its campus. And just south of the city, the 12,900-acre Mesa del Sol, under the development of the Forest City Covington NM LLC, is taking shape as one of the largest master-planned developments in the US. Vacant land on the west side is being snapped up for future office and mixed-use development. And, this is just the tip of the iceberg. "There's a lot of stuff going on here," laughs Gary Tonjes, president of the Albuquerque Economic Development Inc. He and Sul Kassicieh, associate dean for the Anderson School of Management at University of New Mexico say that growth in Albuquerque is not necessarily news because it's been going on for awhile, thanks to the strong government-backed companies in town, but it's accelerated in the past two years. Kassicieh, who also serves as the university's endowed chair of economic development, says the combination of venture capital flowing into the area in the past decade--combined with smart decisions by the state government and organizations supporting technology development--have encouraged businesses and people to move to the area. "It also doesn't hurt to be listed Number One for business and careers on Forbes' Magazine poll," he adds. Kassicieh tells that entrepreneurial development, in the form of suppliers for government and the technology industry, is helping to drive growth in the real estate sector. "I think we'll see a lot of the larger companies here wanting their smaller buyer-suppliers around here," he predicts. Tonjes agrees with Kassicieh, but adds that suppliers will be more willing to have a location as their customers' volume picks up. Tonjes also believes the ingredients for growth have been around for awhile, but the 2004 relocation of Eclipse Aviation from Scottsdale, AZ to Albuquerque, helped to fuel interest in the region plus brought new jobs. In addition, the personal income tax level was cut to 4.9% from 8.2% which, when teamed with other incentives, have made the city very attractive to businesses and people. But, is there a possibility of too much in too short a time? Kassicieh says there is a concerted effort by Albuquerque leaders to work toward planned growth. "On the one hand, you want to encourage a business-friendly atmosphere and give new companies space," he says. "On the other hand, you worry about destroying the aesthetic part of the city. It's a hard tug of war, but I think the city has been doing a good job to figure out the issue." Tonjes tells that the growth isn't out of control just yet although there's been thought given to the situation. "There are certainly some policy makers and people who want to make sure we don't lose the character that people love about Albuquerque," he says. "Everyone wants to be sure the development done here is of high quality."

Blog Archive