Business Section

Friday - October 1st, 1999

Jones Building Owners Battle County

¡ Editorial

Editorial by - Todd Clarke CCIM & Terrie Hertweck CCIM

ownership of the property was quagmired that it was all but impossible to deliver free and clear title to the property to any potential purchasers.

After continual contact, in June of 1998 the owners contracted with Grubb & Ellis|Lewinger Hamilton Inc. for one purpose - sell the property for the highest possible price in the shortest amount of time.  Our job was simple, expose the property to the widest possible audience, obtain offers, and negotiate a sales price and closing period acceptable to the seller.

Although the County's interest was widely publicized, their negotiations were sparse, uninformative, and unforthcoming,

At all times, our office along with the Seller's attorneys kept the County abreast of ongoing negotiations that were underway with several different parties.  Only after an offer was accepted by the Seller from Kelly's Brew Pub, did the County deliver a signed option agreement.

During our negotiations with Kelly's, the sellers and the representatives gave long thought and weighed the benefits of selling to Kelly's vs. the County including: use of historic tax credits to ensure preservation of the building, creation of jobs, keeping the property on the tax rolls, a known sales price and a timely closing.

Unfortunately, the County procurement process left the seller with an unknown price, an indeterminable closing period, exposure to a political process that might not ensure a closing, and the absence of historic tax credits would not obligate the County to maintain and/or preserve the property to the same rigorous Federal standards.

As you may know, last week Kelly's closed on the property at a price close to the $1M

The debate over the Jones Automotive Building has been a spirited debate with an interesting alignment and polarization of community members, neighbors, business owners, politicians and Albuquerqueans.  Persuasive citizens have aligned themselves for or against non-profit vs. profit ventures, business vs. government, bars vs. community centers, tax generation vs. tax expenditure.

The original owner/builder  of the Jones Automotive dealership was Ralph Jones, an ardent booster of Route 66 who served as president of Route 66 Association as well as President of the Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce and Chairman of New Mexico State Highway Commission during the late 1940s.  D K B Sellers, a well known developer and Realtor at the time sold the property to Mr. Jones, with a Nostradomus like vision of what might occur in 1999, he placed a deed restriction forbidding the construction of a sanatorium on the site.

Unfortunately the deed restriction did little to forestall the craziness that has ensued during the last 15 months.  In a year of media coverage, our 1" thick media file demonstrates the same interesting but consistent result -  every possible person has had maximum exposure and input, with a glaring omission of one of the most important opinion holders:
the owners.  Keep in mind, it is the owner's who pay the mortgage, taxes and insurance on the property, who have the most to lose if the sale of the property was left to a "committee" of well meaning democracy oriented citizens.

Several years ago, the owners of the property purchased Jones Automotive with the intent of rehabilitating the historic property and opening a restaurant/bar.  Unfortunately, several events occurred that prohibited the owners from proceeding with their plan.  For a considerable amount of time the

list price, securing title and immediately initiated renovation of the property, meanwhile, the County upped the "land value only" appraisal from the $350,000 range to $520,000, slightly less than of the original asking price, and a far cry below the actual sales price.

The end result? Although the process bordered on obstruction of a private owner's right to sell a property, the ongoing debate allowed maximum public debate, and provided everyone with an interest a forum to discuss the property, with the final results being: a vibrant business remained open, higher property taxes will be collected, $1.3M of the taxpayers money was saved, and most importantly a important historic structure located in the heart of Albuquerque has been given a new lease on life.

Although the debate was sometimes personal, the sellers, seller's representatives, and our office would like to thank those that participated in the process.