By Steve Hansen
QCS managing editor
Tucumcari city officials are exploring a plan that would attract private developers to dispose of the Sands-Dorsey ruins downtown as part of a larger business development.
The officials have held preliminary discussions with state economic development and planning officials to develop a package of incentives that would attract a business developer to dispose of the existing building and build a new business structure on the downtown site.
Possible purposes for the replacement building, among others, include a business incubator — a facility that would offer resources to help launch new businesses; a commercial kitchen; or a retail store downstairs, residential upstairs structure, among others, according g to Pat Vanderpool, executive director of the Greater Tucumcari Economic Development Corp.
Vanderpool said he and Mark Lake, Tucumcari MainStreet’s director, have held preliminary discussions with state-level economic development, redevelopment and financing specialists to begin developing the incentive package, and at least one developer seeking a rural community project has expressed interest in the location.
Vanderpool said that he has had conversations with City Manager Doug Powers and City Commissioners Robert Lumpkin and Mayor Amiel Curnutt about the idea. The next step, Vanderpool said, is likely to be a public work session that would involve all city commissioners to set some direction.
Powers, Vanderpool and Lake have said that recent turmoil in city leadership could work against progress on such a plan. In recent weeks, the City Commission has dismissed, then re-hired Powers and recall petitions have now been approved for circulation against all five commissioners. Petitions for two commissioners, Dora Salinas-McTigue and Jimmy Sandoval, have acquired enough approved signatures to require a recall election.
One of the divisive issues has been the six-year delay in demolishing the Sands Dorsey building since fire essentially destroyed the structure in 2007. Another fire in 2012, did further damage, prompting the city to knock down some walls to reduce hazards to passers-by and surrounding buildings.
“The simple fact is that the city has no money for demolition and no money for redevelopment,” Vanderpool said, explaining why city funds have not been used to dispose of the building’s remains.
“We’ve had three city managers since then,” Vanderpool said, including John Sutherland, Bobbye Rose and Powers.
Final disposal of the Sands Dorsey’s ruins is estimated to cost $400,000, due to the presence of hazardous materials such as lead and asbestos that are embedded in some of the material on site.
Arrangements like the plan to attract a developer, however, are unlikely to make progress unless the city can “demonstrate that we can all work together,” Vanderpool said. “There are resources that can help us get it done.”
There are tax incentives and bonding plans available under state statutes like the Metropolitan Redevelopment Act, that could help finance a redevelopment project that would include demolition and disposal of the Sands Dorsey building, Vanderpool said.