Posted at: 12/31/2013 6:18 PM
By: Caleb James, KOB Eyewitness News 4
Some businesses in downtown Albuquerque have had a hard time surviving. Now the prices on two huge buildings for sale have been slashed dramatically.
Anytime someone slashes a sale price, eyebrows start raising, and it seems to signal a sticky situation for Albuquerque's downtown economy.
But on Wednesday, downtown leaders don't seem terribly worried.
"We're seeing things happen, we're just not seeing as much as we'd like to see happen," said Todd Clarke.
Clarke takes a glass-half-full approach to downtown.
"I've been working downtown now for 25 years, living downtown about a dozen years," he said.
The real estate professional works downtown and serves on the Downtown Action Team board.
You'd think he'd be worried by this news first reported by our partners at Albuquerque Business First: Two side-by-side downtown buildings -- 500 Copper, and the historic Sears Building -- are both for sale.
Just Wednesday, Business First reports both are listed at up to a million dollars less than they were within the last two years.
"There is a lot of empty space, and a lot of old buildings. I think the two go hand in hand," said Clarke.
Clarke agrees 31 percent of office space downtown standing empty isn't great news.
But cheaper buildings may be a good thing.
He said many are in foreclosure or owned by lenders.
"Including this building before it sold last year," he said, gesturing to the Simms Building at 3rd and Gold.
Clarke said if a private buyer gets it at a steal, it's only a benefit.
"Get it renovated, get it leased out," he said.
The Downtown Action Team's director says empty office buildings are less of a concern because of new neighbors.
"We do have significantly more residents living down here now than we did even 2 years ago," said Debbie Stover.
Stover said new homes are available all over downtown, and younger folks moving in means niche businesses are popping up
"That's when downtown becomes a real total community," she said.
Both of those folks say downtown's revitalization will somewhat dependent on people moving here, which is happening at a steady rate.
The office workers who work downtown usually leave by 5 p.m., leaving it pretty dead downtown at night.
The hope is, attracting more residents to one of Albuquerque's oldest neighborhoods is the key to its revitalization.