City to begin demolishing problematic properties in Albuquerque

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The City of Albuquerque revived a pre-pandemic program targeting the most dangerous and problematic buildings in the metro.  

City officials identify and demolish dilapidated buildings that often bring crime and other safety concerns to Albuquerque neighborhoods.  

City leaders and demolition crews gathered at 1828 Mary Ellen St. NE, the latest property to be taken down Tuesday morning. 

“It should not take 20 years to deal with a building like this,” Mayor Tim Keller said. “There was actually somebody sleeping in here this morning.”

In the last year, this northeast Albuquerque home has been the subject of 54 calls to Albuquerque police, seven fire calls and has been boarded up 10 times.

“We try and secure properties but at some point, if we cannot secure the property and the owner can’t secure the property, then we have to resort to things like demolition,” said Keller. 

That was the case for 1828 Mary Ellen Street Tuesday morning and 32 other buildings the city deemed a threat to safety in the past year.

“It’s not a number that we’re proud of, because it reflects broader problems in our community, we know that,” Keller said. 

The city originally planned to tackle these demolitions years ago, but the pandemic slowed things down.

“There is a huge backlog, but we are working it and in due time and legal appropriateness,” said Keller. 

City reps say they have five upcoming emergency demolitions and another seven properties under review that could get added to that list.

“Most of the time, we can encourage and nudge the owner into taking them down themselves, it’s much less expensive for the owner to do it,” said Alan Varela, CABQ Planning Department director. “If the city takes it down, the city bills it back to the property owner, we put a lien on the property, and if the liens are large enough, then we look at foreclosure actions as well.”

The troubled Ambassador Inn near I-25 and Menaul is an example of a problematic property where the owner is cooperating with the city.

“The owner has taken upon themselves to start doing renovations and so it’s our understanding that they’ve completed renovations on at least one of the floors. And they’re working their way through the building in order to clean it up and run it the way it should be run,” said Varela. 

The mayor says demolition is a last resort, and that the city hopes to achieve more safe places for people to live.

“We need places for people to live, so we need this to be a real house. That’s what we need, and so hopefully this will get that process started,” said Keller. 

KOB 4 spoke with a lot of people in this neighborhood who came out to watch this building come down.

While some were unsure whether this will make them feel more safe, others said for decades this house has been a source of shootings, drug deals, fires, among other things, and they’re happy to see it go.

Upcoming emergency demolitions:

  • 1828 Mary Ellen NE (demo started today)
  • 710 Cromwell SW
  • 205 Utah NE
  • 225 Utah NE
  • 5179 Golondrian DR NW

Potential demolitions under review:

  • 505 Marble Ave NW
  • 5612 Baer Place NW
  • 8001 Trumble Ave SE
  • 3711 Lombardy
  • 6416 Central
  • 13301 Cedarbrook Ave NE
  • 1417 Chester Ln SW