Local union looks to lease old Remco Bolt building in Albuquerque

Local union looks to buy old Remco Bolt building in Albuquerque

There's potentially new life coming to a part of downtown Albuquerque that sorely needs it.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – There’s potentially new life coming to a part of downtown Albuquerque that sorely needs it.

A local union has its eye on the old Remco Bolt building north of downtown that’s been sitting vacant for years.

But it’s still up to city councilors to decide if they can move in.

“This is kind of a dilapidated property, but we’re willing to take the risk,” said Courtenay Eichhorst, a business manager of UA Local 412. 

The union has more than 2,000 statewide members, plumbers, pipe fitters, HVAC workers, and apprentices.

They have two other spaces in the International District, but Eichhorst says it’s not nearly enough.

“We’re spread thin, and we’re a little overwhelmed,” said Eichhorst. 

The union is asking the city to lease them the property for worker training and an apprentice readiness program. Programs are six weeks with 10 apprentices. 

“If they are willing to start at the ground level. We can get them trained, we can get them to work, they’ll start making a decent living immediately. And once they make it through our program, we’re one of the best paid crafts in the state,” Eichhorst said. 

They hope their new neighbors at HopeWorks can help accomplish their goals. The idea is to get some of the people experiencing homelessness from the sidewalk, into a new career.

“We truly believe that the skilled trades are a pathway out of poverty,” said Joan Baker, director of outreach for UA Local 412. 

Baker is in charge of outreach for the union.

“We’ll make sure that we’re outreaching to the most in need and the most underserved here in Albuquerque,” said Baker. 

Their other neighbor – longtime business owner Mike Rippberger – likes the idea of progress.

“I’m cautiously optimistic, and that’s being very optimistic,” said Mike Rippberger, owner of Aiken Printing Company. 

Rippberger says he deals with trespassing and trash on his property on a daily basis. He’s also ready for a change.

“If they can take people and help them get off the street and be better with their lives, I’m all for it. Especially, if they can help us help the city clean up the streets,” said Rippberger. 

A win for him, the union, and the future apprentices. 

“We’re out of space, we’ve got to do something for expansion, and this is a pretty good option for us,” said Eichhorst. 

Leaders in the city’s Health, Housing, and Homelessness Department say they’re excited about the project, and have faith city councilors will approve the lease during the upcoming Dec. 4 meeting.

The union says they’d be ready to move in within days and will renovate as they go.

The union added this is the perfect time to join a trade as Intel, Facebook, and the labs in the state are expanding. Maxeon Solar Company will be breaking ground on a large facility in Mesa Del Sol next year. 

The need for more trades people will only keep growing.