Former family housing complex future site of trades facility

By Noah Solomon / NM News Port

Central New Mexico Community College has new plans for its new space.

Approved for sale by the University of New Mexico Board of Regents, the former Student Family Housing complex will become the home of CNM’s new trades facility building. Demolition and remediation are scheduled to begin in November.

The future plans for the 13-acre site have sent waves of excitement throughout CNM. Brad Moore, Director of Communications & Media Relations at CNM, said the new facility will help train the next generation of skilled workers, allowing CNM to incorporate more technology and flexibility in teaching such things as using robots in manufacturing and how to work on electric cars.

Outer building and inner courtyard of a Student Family Housing quad. The complex has been empty as of June 2021. CNM plans to begin demolition November 2021. Photo by Noah Solomon / NM News Port

“We think it’s going to serve the whole region of Central New Mexico and the state in terms of trying to develop the skilled workforce we need in the construction and the manufacturing trades,” Moore said. “We’ve gotten a lot of input from the local business and industry sectors as well, on what kind of programs they see in their future in their industries.”

The current trades facility, Ted Chavez Hall, was built in the 1970’s and is considered too costly to renovate today. This determination was made by utilizing the facility condition index of a building, where the buildings are assessed to determine if it is cost effective for renovation. 

Front view of Ted Chavez Hall west building at Central New Mexico Community College. Both east and west buildings are scheduled for demolition in March, 2023. Photo by Noah Solomon / NM News Port

The estimated cost to renovate both east and west buildings of Ted Chavez Hall totaled $37.4 million, while the current estimates for the demolition of Ted Chavez Hall and the construction of the new building total $28 million.

UNM has its own facility assessment methods and they spelled the end of the Student Family Housing complex — a 200 apartment plot south of UNM and immediately east of CNM. On June 30, the site permanently closed its doors

The announcement was met with disappointment, anxiety, and confusion by the residents. 

According to UNM at the time, renovation costs were projected at $45 million for a complete overhaul or replacement of the complex. Thomas Neale, Director of UNM Real Estate, a department under the Institutional Support Services at UNM, clarifies this explanation:

“$45 Million was the estimated cost to completely demolish and replace the SFH complex. So that $45 Million estimate included the estimated cost of new construction for a replacement building (at pre-pandemic prices). Based on the highest and best use analysis, the estimated market value of the property in its current condition (as of September 2021, when the request for sale was made) is/was $1,090,000.”

A statement from the UNM Newsroom about the sale cited “it would require $5.82 million in capital expenditure to extend the physical life of the improvements for an additional 20 years” after a facility assessment done by the university was completed. Amy Coburn, Director and University Architect for UNM’s Planning, Design & Construction supported Neale’s explanation of estimated costs of a facility that had reached the end of its economic life and was no longer feasible to operate.

Main entrance to Student Family Housing chained and locked. SFH closed its doors on June 30, 2021 with demolition starting November. Photo by Noah Solomon / NM News Port

“The $5.82 million amount was the estimate to renovate the then existing deficiencies of the complex,” said Coburn. “The overall analysis concluded that significant capital expenditure would not have been fiscally responsible since it did not provide a positive impact on value.”

At CNM, Moore says the plans call for the housing units to be demolished this year and, after site preparation, for construction to begin in March of 2023.

“In between that time frame we are currently in the process of planning for the new building: what size it’ll be, what programs will be in it,” he said. “So we’re going through the visioning and planning and designing steps right now.”

The sale of the Student Family Housing complex was finalized on September 14, 2021, by approval of the Board of Regents at UNM at the price of $1.5 million; $410,000 above the estimated appraisal value of the property.

Noah Solomon is a reporter for the New Mexico News Port. He can be followed on Twitter @NASolomon_01