Peralta — The town of Peralta may have a community center sooner than anticipated.

“So, we thought we would put that on the shelf for a while and go after this building here, which we can do a lot quicker and we’d have something in place for the seniors and for the rest of the community to use pretty quickly,” said Peralta Mayor Bryan Olguin.

Peralta is one of two municipalities in Valencia County that does not have a community center. The town is planning to alleviate that as soon as they can by purchasing a vacant restaurant in Bosque Farms.

Jesse Jones | News-Bulletin photo
The town of Peralta officials are looking into purchasing this closed-up restaurant in Bosque Farms to use as a community center.

For years, Peralta has been planning on building the community center at the park, located at 4 Quail Run Drive, which is near completion.

Initially, the community center was planned to be completed in three phases, estimated to cost more than $10 million by architecture firm Buffalo Design.

“When 2020 happened, (the cost) skyrocketed. It would take $12 to $13 million now, at least because of the rising construction cost,” said Peralta Town Clerk Kori Taylor.

The designs included a commercial kitchen, an adjoining dining area, different activity rooms for crafts, a large gymnasium and two exercise rooms.

The building town officials is attempting to purchase is the former J&L’s Country Kitchen, at 2500 Bosque Farms Blvd., in Bosque Farms. The property is just north of the town of Peralta and within  Bosque Farms’ boundary.

The property was constructed in 2006 and is valued at $860,000. It sits on 1.706 acres and is 8,605 square feet.

The building is zoned as a C-1 community commercial.

Based on the appraisal packet sent to the town council, the photos show a fully-equipped kitchen with commercial-grade appliances, a fire suppression system, and a fully furnished dining room with tables and chairs.

Olguin said the town looked at the property more than a decade ago when it needed a town hall after incorporation. The council meetings at the time were being held at Peralta Elementary.

The town was unable to purchase the vacant restaurant but another property on Molina Road became available, so the town purchased the land and built its current administrative building.

Within the last year, the vacant restaurant went back on the market, so the town council decided to pivot and try to buy it for a community center.

“We basically put a lot of effort into going after the fire building funding, and this building became available.” Olguin continues, “We said, ‘Let’s just target that building there and we can wait for the full-blown community center.’”

With the purchase of the building, the renovations will be exponentially less expensive than building from the ground up.

In the town’s initial Infrastructure Capital Improvement Plan (ICIP) this year, the council was going to request more than $12 million to build the community center but changed it to reflect the new plan.

The updated ICIP requests $1.5 million to help pay for the renovation of the existing building.

The council discussed how to pay for the property during the August council meeting but did not have a solid plan yet.

“We talked about how the money is there in reserves and our SIB (State Infrastructure Bank) loan is paying out in a month and a half. So, there is an option to finance if we choose to do that or pay it out,” said Councilor Randy Smith at the meeting.

Whatever way the council decides to pay for the building, the mayor says it will be a great investment for the town.

“I think (the community is) gonna respond very well,” Olguin said. “It will be available to the residents for receptions, baby showers and wedding parties.”

Town officials want the community center to be a place for the senior citizens to utilize but they cannot call it a senior center. Only senior citizens would be permitted to use the space if that was the case.

The town hopes the commercial kitchen will be one of the most beneficial aspects of the community center.

“The only commercial kitchen, I believe we have in Valencia County, is in Belen, where they make the meals for the seniors,” said the mayor. “We’ll make this available to any residents that need it or businesses that need a commercial kitchen.”

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Jesse Jones lives in Albuquerque with his wife and son. Jesse graduated from of the University of New Mexico twice. This spring, he graduated with a degree in multimedia journalism and, in 2006, he received a bachelor’s degree in university studies with an emphasis in photojournalism. He is a current fellow of the New Mexico Local News Fund.