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Sunday, December 21, 2014

UNM’s land development gains new grounding

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By Sergio Jiménez / New Mexico Daily Lobo

A barren tract of land remains mostly undeveloped on UNM’s south campus. UNM has finally acquired some land on south campus specifically for athletics parking.

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After about four decades of trying to acquire land on south campus, UNM sealed a $1.2 million deal for property last month.
UNM has obtained 23 lots along Sunshine Terrace, after reaching an agreement with the family that privately owned the lots early in January.

Tom Neale, associate director for UNM Real Estate, said the University had been trying to attain the lots since the 1970s. He said UNM reached a settlement with the family that owned the lots after the UNM Board of Regents filed a condemnation petition with the court.

“The condemnation process sets forth a period where the parties are to negotiate in good faith with each other to try to settle the lawsuit,” he said. “If the lawsuit cannot be settled, then it goes to court. In either case, it results in a court-ordered settlement.”

The condemnation process refers to exercising the power of eminent domain. Eminent domain is when private property is taken for public use in exchange for compensation.

Neale said that while the settlement was 10 percent more than the appraised value of the property, the timing still benefitted UNM.
“We were very fortunate to be able to settle this early on without incurring a lot of legal expenses in consultant fees,” he said.

UNM has been accumulating land for north, south and central campus for a long time in order to benefit future generations of students, Neale said.

“It’s really part of a bigger picture of assembling land for future growth of the campus.”

he said. “We’ve been at this land building since 1889. And many of the sites that have these academic buildings on them were acquired decades ago by regents who had the foresight to continue that acquisition.”

Neale said that because the land was acquired under condemnation, the lots can only be used for public or institutional use. He said at this junction in time, space will be used as green space, for parking and to expand athletic facilities, such as the baseball and softball fields.

“The use of the land will be in conformance with the south campus master plan,” he said.

Some UNM students think that the planned use of the space may be beneficial to south campus.

Dillon Graham, a sophomore studying computer engineering, said he goes down to south campus to take classes at Central New Mexico Community College twice a week. He said while student housing may also be a good investment, green space would be a favorable feature.

“I’m down in that area part of the day anyway,” he said. ”It would be nice to have somewhere to go hang out and do some homework.”

Abdulrahman Dadoue, a freshman with an undecided major, said he does not go to south campus much. But he said he is in favor of the planned amenities.

But Neale said UNM still has to obtain nine privately-owned lots before it can completely apply the changes.

“We still have nine lots to acquire to really assemble all of this land and fully implement a long-term vision for south campus,” he said.