Albuquerque city government officials have for months shown interest in buying a shutdown Walmart in the International District, with plans to purchase it using money secured from the state Legislature. The city says now those funds may not be enough.
Albuquerque got just under $2 million in the 2023 legislative session to devote to projects in the Nob Hill area.
Since the end of the session, the city has been talking with Walmart about buying the company’s now-closed property located off of San Mateo Blvd. Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller’s office said in April that the city would use the capital outlay funds to buy the Walmart.
The chain store closed in March. Nobody’s purchased it yet.
The city recently announced that the $2 million secured from the Legislature isn’t enough to buy Walmart at its market value.
Ava Montoya, spokesperson for Keller’s office, said the city didn’t know that the capital outlay funds wouldn’t be enough to buy the property until after the 2023 legislative session, and “it was assumed that $2 million would likely not be enough to buy the property.”
“The City and its partners in the state legislature sought to secure any funding possible to help make improvements and bring needed resources to the International District,” she said.
The total land assessment of the Walmart property— something used to determine the property’s tax value — is just over $3 million, according to the New Mexico commercial real estate agency in charge of the property, CBRE.
CBRE Senior Vice President Jim Dountas declined to share the market value price that the property is worth. He said there’s no set asking price on the property, but interested parties are encouraged to put down a full offer.
In comparison, nearby big box stores selling their properties are asking for more than $2 million — like an Advanced Auto Parts on Central Avenue going for sale for $2.26 million or an IHOP on Menaul Avenue up for $3.9 million — with less than 5% of the over 200,000 square footage the Walmart has.
Montoya said Walmart will work with Albuquerque if the city’s initial offer on the private market isn’t met.
She said the capital outlay funds can be used for general redevelopment in the International District if the city doesn’t buy the Walmart property. The funds must be used in the Nob Hill area.
The city is still keeping in mind what the city could replace the closed Walmart with to help local residents, Montoya added.
“The City will listen to the community’s needs and work with the resources available to create changes that best serve them,” she said.
International District resident Enrique Cardiel is the executive director of Albuquerque’s Health Equity Council and one of the local leaders organizing community input sessions. He said elected officials haven’t actually yet attended any of the community input sessions that have been happening, though.
He said there’s not yet a clear timeline on when officials will start discussing ideas with local residents.
Cardiel said there’s a petition with over 200 signatures containing ideas on what locals want to see on the property, like mutual aid programs or a local grocery store. He said the petition also requests that the city of Albuquerque not let the store “become a nuisance” with nobody watching over the property and people breaking into it.
Meanwhile, people are still lacking nearby resources with the absence of the Walmart, he said.
“There’s this long-term plan that would come out of talking to the city, but there’s still the immediate need of people who’ve been without their normal grocery stores for the last month or so,” Cardiel said.
That’s if the city can even buy the property.
Cardiel said it is concerning to some degree that city officials are now saying they can’t afford the Walmart, but it’s about more than just that. He said the community members would probably reach out to whoever ends up owning the property in a push to redevelop the spot with local needs in mind.
“This isn’t about Walmart, in the sense that our answer is not filling that building necessarily,” he said. “It’s just getting more adequate services for the community.”
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