Courtesy Image

A map highlighting the proposed area for the ABQ Angel affordable housing development (in red) — two parcels of village-owned land directly to the east of the Los Lunas Transportation Center.


 

LOS LUNAS — The village of Los Lunas entered into an agreement with ABQ Angel LLC to develop affordable apartment housing on village property near the Los Lunas Transportation Center.

“Affordable has really changed; it’s not just something for low-income folks,” Sheldon Jordan, founder of ABQ Angel LLC, told the council earlier this month. “It’s really firemen, teachers, police officers and, as you said, workers that might be working the distribution center.”

In its preliminary plans, the organization proposed a four-building layout with affordable two- and three-bedroom apartments available, plus a clubhouse. Some of the buildings will be reserved solely for seniors.

In order to qualify to live at the complex, Jordan said the income cut off would be anywhere from 60 to 80 percent of the estimated median income, or EMI, of the area, which will be assessed at a later date.

ABQ Angel LLC has plans to construct the complex on two village-owned parcels directly east of the Los Lunas Transportation Center, which will be leased to the organization by the village as the project progresses.

The parcel currently has no utility connections and is mainly utilized as a drainage pond.

While ABQ Angel is still a start-up, Jordan said the company has plans to bring several affordable housing projects to New Mexico within the next year. Recently the organization was invited to be a part of the National Equity Fund, opening the doors for ABQ Angel to support six different housing projects throughout the metro area.

“In terms of why we started ABQ Angel, we understand there is a real need for innovative opportunities to bring investment into communities,” the founder said. “Some of which are different than mainstream, but we do see them as options to bring in affordable housing.”

Village of Los Lunas Community Development Director Erin Callahan said the memorandum of agreement, which was unanimously approved by the council during its May 5 council meeting, serves as a safety net to protect the interest of both parties through the pre-development phases.

She added as the project continues, she and ABQ Angel will return to provide the council with information on the development since the agreement is only for the pre-development stages.

“The purpose of the MOA today is that affordable housing projects rely on competitive funds to develop,” Callahan said. “They will need to put in applications to develop this project. However, they can’t apply for any of these funds without some commitment from the village, (and) if they get the funds, they will be able to move the project forward.”

Callahan said the housing project adheres to the over-arching plans for the area around the transportation center, which have been in development since the construction of the Rail Runner in 2008, to “encourage a walkable, dense area … so that people can have the opportunity to take the commuter rail or bus service to work rather than driving.”

Los Lunas Councilor James Runyon, whose district the housing complex will fall within, questioned the “pretty low” income barrier to live in the proposed affordable housing.

He pointed out both the Walmart Distribution Center and Amazon are proposing worker pay rates of $18 to $20 per hour, however if a qualified family could only earn about $30,000 a year to be qualified, it could exclude that family.

“District four has already got enough issues,” Runyon said. “I’m already dealing with transients, drug dealers in the area. We’ve also been encouraging and positive to allow people to move on.”

Despite reservations, he also acknowledged how the development would bring some “excitement to the area.”

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Makayla Grijalva was born and raised in Las Cruces. She is a 2020 graduate of The University of New Mexico, where she studied multimedia journalism, political science and history. She covers the village of Los Lunas, Los Lunas Schools, SODA and the town of Peralta.