By Richard Metcalf / Journal Staff Writer Thursday, November 26th, 2015 at 3:00pm
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A poster child of the commercial real-estate bust, the 30-unit Venture Commerce Center at 9664 Eagle Ranch NW, has finally achieved full occupancy nearly seven years after it hit the market, setting the stage for a retail center across the road.
Both Venture Commerce Center and the proposed retail center at 9641 Eagle Ranch NW are largely owned by investor groups associated with Allen Sigmon Real Estate Group, which acquired them in separate deals from their lenders.
“One of our strategies here is to be investors and developers on our own,” said Allen Sigmon Group’s Jeff Martinez. “We have the time and energy and, since we’re local, the eyes on the street to find and buy distressed properties and add value to them.”
Negotiations are underway with potential users at the as-yet-unnamed retail center, which has about 22,000 square feet in two buildings in the conceptual stage, said Allen Sigmon Group’s Jeff Martinez.
The group purchased the 6.7-acre site in 2013. The first retail building to go up would be at least 50 percent preleased due to both loan requirements and sound business practices, he said.
The initial plan was to use the entire site for a 201-unit apartment community, but the multihousing component was reduced to a possible 72-unit project on four acres off Irving because of concern about rising construction costs and new apartment complexes opening in the Cottonwood area.
“That’s now secondary,” he said. “We figure the retail will go first.”
Once reputed to be the priciest real estate in Albuquerque — the original asking price for unfinished space was $200-$260 a square foot — Venture Commerce Center was part of a tsunami of about one million square feet of new industrial and office condo space caught in a fading commercial real-estate market in early 2008.
The 30 units were essentially mini office/warehouses, ranging in size from 1,225 to 3,206 square feet, geared to contractors.
Demand for that type of space evaporated with the real-estate downturn. The asking prices were dropped several times and 10 units eventually sold.
The Allen Sigmon investor group bought the remaining 20 units as a package in early 2013 when the asking price was $3 million, a huge discount on the California developer’s original $14 million investment. Martinez said the units were converted to rentals and, by August, all were leased.