Hotel plan comes with concerns

The issue of what to do about the Hotel Clovis has been a sticking point since the hotel closed in the 1980s. At various times different plans surfaced and were discarded. There was a group planning to buy the property and use it for a radio station, but that fell through.

The city of Clovis was put in the position of spending money to condemn the building and take ownership of the hotel. I have heard it suggested that a referendum be placed on the ballot asking citizens whether the hotel should be refurbished or destroyed. This last suggestion, which always made the most sense to me, never gained any momentum.

Whether you agree or disagree with the Hotel Clovis project, there are some specifics that should be evaluated.

• “The city commissioners have reviewed a written estimate and it will cost $2 million to tear it down.” In fact, there has been no request for quote issued by the city to determine an accurate cost for demolition. Without a formal RFP, the city has no valid estimate. The city has a valid guess.

• “We only received one response to our RFP to refurbish the hotel.”

Rather than a cause for rejoicing, this should have given the commission grounds for some concern. If the project was truly economically viable, there would have been more than one respondent.

• There are 10 banks (and two credit unions) listed in the Clovis phone directory. I invite you to call whoever you bank with and ask them why they didn’t elbow each other out of the way to loan Tierra Realty Trust the $1.4 million required to “keep the project alive.” Do you believe that two restaurateurs, a developer, a lawyer, a retired postal worker, a retired delivery worker, an advertising salesman and a retirement home operator are more qualified than professional bankers to determine whether or not any specific loan will perform as expected? The lender of last resort is always some level of government and government is generally the least qualified to determine whether or not the loan is workable.

One final piece of information should be considered; the city doesn’t have $1.4 million to lend. They will take the money from the Workmen’s Comp fund. It is normal practice for our city government, with consent from the commission, to move funds from one account to another when the empty account has overrun its budget.

n “Tierra Realty wants to rebuild the hotel and an adjacent building into 59 affordable housing units.” The New Mexico Mortgage Finance Authority web page includes four City of Clovis projects awarded Low Income Housing Tax Credits. Additionally, the 59 units at Hotel Clovis Lofts (2010) are designated “Low Income Units.”

The city of Clovis may think of them as Affordable Housing, but the State shows them as “Low Income Units.”

Whatever they are called, subsidized housing does not guarantee U.S. Air Force personnel first choice for occupancy.

• A city commissioner and a Clovis real estate broker have both made essentially the same argument in favor of the hotel project. Both indicated that it would be a good thing to have affordable housing so their “children/grandchildren could have an affordable place to live.” It can be argued that a person living under the Prince Street viaduct needs subsidized housing. The same argument cannot be made for commissioners and real estate brokers.