What’s next for the vacant homes in the Hispanic Cultural Center parking lot?

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Back when talks of building the Hispanic Cultural Center started, everyone around the property sold out – but not Adela Martinez. 

Martinez and her family lived there for decades, passing the property down through the years. 

Now, the city says no one has lived there in a few years, and they’re working to figure out the property’s future. 

One of the buildings caught on fire in 2021, causing it to be boarded up and the other soon followed.

“440. It was actually found to be without utility services. And so that one, again, was boarded up back in June of this year. But that’s because it was deemed a non-habitable space and nobody was living there,” said Tim Walsh, a public information officer for the city’s Planning Department. 

Walsh says the properties are still privately-owned, but going through probate. So the city can’t do much about the properties right now. 

“We have been in contact with the new property owners, and we are trying to figure out a solution that fits their needs best,” said Walsh. 

Walsh says substandard properties like this always have the potential for redemption. 

“We always take a rehab approach towards these things. We want to make sure that the property owners have the time and availability to do the things that they need, or want to do with the properties. But at the end of the day, most of us are really trying to avoid demolishing a property that could otherwise be rehabilitated,” Walsh said. 

In a statement, the National Hispanic Cultural Center said in part:

“The Martinez family homes and their story are a core part of the Barelas community and we are hoping to work with the city in any capacity to ensure this story remains part of the neighborhood.” 

The city says it has a meeting with the property owners next week to go over potential next steps. 

In the meantime, these houses will stay up and are not on the demo list.