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At its Monday, Aug. 21, regular meeting, the Las Cruces City Council unanimously passed a resolution declaring an abandoned property at 430 S. Main St. as “so ruined, damaged and dilapidated that it constitutes a menace to the public comfort, health, peace or safety and warrants abatement and removal.”
City staff reported at the meeting the property owner has agreed to demolish the building.
As part of the meeting’s consent agenda, the council extended City Manager Ifo Pili’s contract for at least three additional years. The council also approved the donation of a vacant lot to be used for affordable housing.
The dilapidated building, over the 11-plus years it sat vacant and unused, earned the nickname “Eyesore of District 4,” referring to its City Council District. City Community Development Department (CCD) staff and officers from the Code Enforcement Division of the Las Cruces Police Department made the determination of the building’s condition after a site visit, the city said. “Multiple calls for service and complaints have been received by Codes Enforcement” about the building, the city said.
“It’s an unfinished and unsafe structure based on inspections recently performed,” CCD Director Larry Nichols said during the meeting.
“No development (of the property) ever came to fruition,” Nichols said.
Nichols said property owner John Hoffman of El Paso did not respond to a letter the city sent earlier this year demanding abatement or demolition of the property, so the city sought relief from Third Judicial District Court. The court issued an inspectoral order, which Nichols said is the equivalent of a search warrant, which allowed city staff to inspect the interior of the building, where they discovered unsafe and hazardous conditions, he said.
In a July 15 telephone conversation, Nichols said Hoffman told him he (Hoffman) “would pursue demolition” of the property.
The city issued a demolition permit Aug. 10, Nichols said, and the work began Aug. 16.
Nichols said the demolition permit is good for 180 days, but he expects the work to be completed before the permit expires.
The city respects the rights of property owners, but they also have to maintain their property and keep it “at a minimum safe standard,” Councilor Johana Bencomo said at the meeting.
“When you fail to do that, measures like this have to be taken,” said Bencomo, who represents City Council District 4, which includes the abandoned property.
Pili became city manager Sept. 8, 2020. He was hired July 23, 2020, on a three-year contract. The council voted to extend the contract for an additional three years, until Sept. 8, 2026, at an annual salary of $216,000.
The council approved the donation of a vacant parcel of land the city owns at 2245 E. Griggs Ave. to Catholic Charities Housing Inc./Celsea Investment Corp., for the development of Three Sisters Affordable Housing Complex, a 70-unit low-income housing project to be constructed at 130 N. Walnut St. The donated land will allow for site improvements, including a community center and access to the site, the city said.
The two properties are adjacent.
The donation by the city is allowed under the state’s Affordable Housing Act.