Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Old Town business owners frustrated with Landmark Commission guidelines

ALBUQUERQUE, NM (KRQE) – Business owners in Old Town are trying to find a balance between revitalization and following the rules to preserve the area’s history. Businesses like the Taproom have been told structures like the patio shade hides historic detailing on the building and that’s not allowed.

The city of Albuquerque wants to maintain Old Town’s unique and historic look. That means addressing businesses that aren’t following guidelines from the landmark commission.

At a city council meeting Albuquerque’s associate counsel, Julia Coulloudon, said, “The landmarks commission voted to deny the certificate for the shade structure finding that the materials used are not within keeping with the historic character of the building or of Old Town overall.”

The owner of the Taproom at Old Town, Brian Langwell, appealed to the Landmark Commission’s recommendation to remove the front metal plastic and latillas structure. But during Monday’s city council meeting, councilors unanimously agreed to uphold the recommendations.

Now Langwell needs to make some changes. “If he reconstructs the shade structure with appropriate materials and in a way that does not obstruct the view of the patio details an extended patio covering could be approved,” said Coulloudon.

Another business owner in Old Town is in the same boat. Jasper Riddle says he’s waiting on a decision from the Landmark Commission regarding a patio rail and painted murals. He owns Noisy Water Winery. “Coming into a city and pouring out my heart and tears into it I would have never had thought that I would be fighting over a code compliant patio or murals painted on the side of an old building.”

Riddle says he wants to see Old Town grow and thrive but revitalization is hard when there are such specific rules and regulations. “Make it easier for other businesses trying to come in and create tax dollars and provide jobs, don’t make all these hoops to jump through because you’re going to make it impossible for people to conduct business.”

The city’s historic preservation planner says they want to work with property and business owners in Old Town looking to make changes but they must come to them beforehand. The city’s guidelines for Old Town were newly clarified in the fall. Some of the biggest changes were banning shade sails and requiring shade structures to match the time period of Old Town.

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