Homeless murder lot focus of redevelopment hopes

Updated: 07/28/2014 10:18 PM | Created: 07/28/2014 9:35 PM
By: Caleb James, KOB Eyewitness News 4

People in one west Central Avenue neighborhood say they've endured years of neglect and violence.

Just over a week ago, two homeless men were brutally murdered in a vacant lot at 60th St. and Central Ave.

Back in March, a man was shot and killed outside an apartment complex in that same area after an hours-long SWAT standoff with police.

Residents say they want more attention, some care and change.

Some city leaders say re-development may be the answer.

"Get in the car, and take them to somewhere else," said Martin Gutierrez.

That's what Gutierrez says he has to do when his kids want to go outside and play.

"Do something here," he said. "They have plenty of space, and it's a waste."

Right now his 60th and Central neighborhood is famous for all the wrong reasons.

Public housing here is where APD shot and killed Alfred Redwine in March, and this lot is where Jerome Eskeets witnessed the brutal murder of his friends Kee Thompson and Al Gorman.

"Of course I will stay here," said Eskeets.

A lot of different people call this neighborhood home -- like Maria Chavez, who raises her grandson Alejandro here.

"I would like to see this community you know a lot more buildings where people can go when they're in trouble," said Chavez. It's time, she says, for change. "We had talked about really the idea of really turning this into a mixed use, family friendly area," said Albuquerque City Councilor Klarissa Pena.

Pena agrees, she's been having in depth discussions with council president Ken Sanchez about taking charge of this area.

"We have several vacant parcels that are great opportunities to do something for families," she said.

Right now, the vacant parcel where Thompson and Gorman were killed is owned by the West Central Community Development Group.

Pena says she wants to use a $40,000 redevelopment grant already given by the state to get the ball rolling on community centers and resources here.

"I'm going to look to that to see if we can put those dollars as seed money to start to move forward on this," he said.

Pena also says this neighborhood is highly visible, right along Central, old Route 66, lots of people see this area.

For that reason, too, she says she's banding together with city leaders to talk about development throughout this area, already rich with culture and community.

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