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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Financial negotiation looms over south campus lots

UNM is ready to go face to face with the owner of the south campus lots the University hopes to develop.

Associate Director of Real Estate Thomas Neale said UNM’s Board of Regents is not having any luck negotiating with the Gutierrez Family Revocable Trust over the price of the 23 lots that UNM is planning to develop in the Sunshine Terrace subdivision in south campus.

Neale said the negotiation process required UNM and the landowners to negotiate the lots’ price by themselves before heading to court. He said the University proposed to purchase the lots for $1.1 million earlier this month, but the landowners said they would prefer to settle the price in court instead of accepting UNM’s most recent bid.

“The process first requires us to negotiate a resolution or a settlement and if there is a settlement, the court will order a judgment in regard to lots,” Neale said. “If we cannot reach an agreement or a settlement on a price for the lots, it will go to court and the court process will determine the fair market value of the lots.”

Neale said UNM and the trust do not have a date in court yet.

According to Neal, Athletics facilities, such as tennis courts, baseball and softball stadiums, and multi-purpose fields, are slated to occupy the area.

Neale said the University will not hire a construction company to handle the projects. Instead, he said UNM will handle projects through UNM Procurement Services, a UNM department that handles University construction.

But he said the University is still unsure about how much the planned projects will cost and when construction might begin.

“The costs and the timing of those have not been determined,” Neale said. “There is still a lot of programming and planning to be done on the land to make sure we incorporate appropriately into the south campus master plan.”

Board of Regents President Jack Fortner said the board plans to push through with the project because it will support the master plan for south campus.

“The regents believe this action is an important part of the long-range master plan for the UNM south campus,” Fortner said. “We already have more than 800 students living on south campus, and this planned development would provide them an area for…recreational activities.”

UNM President Robert Frank said the planned developments in south campus will benefit the University and the community.

“We believe this is the fairest way to proceed,” Frank said. “UNM wants to acquire the property to continue development of the south campus area in a way that will benefit both the University and the community, but we are sensitive to the interests of the landowners.”

Some students have already expressed support for the projects.

Shelby Livingston, a junior who will move into Lobo Village in the fall to be closer to UNM, said it would be nice if the University could fill the barren land.

Sonia Engman, a dance major, said she attends UNM sporting events. She said she is glad that the University decided to expand, especially for athletic purposes.

“There’s just empty space there, so why not use it for something that can benefit everyone,” Engman said. “I feel like Lobo Village has already made it a prettier city, so I think adding multiple facilities there for the community will be a good addition.”