The New Mexico State Land Office is asking for public input on whether it should sell land south of Cleveland High School for retail development.

People can provide written comments through the end of the day Sept. 17.

During a public meeting Tuesday evening at City Hall, State Land Office Assistant Commissioner of Commercial Resources Steve Vierck said the almost 19 acres on the northwest corner of Paseo del Volcan and Westphalia Road is zoned for retail use and might be re-platted to add land before the sale.

“Interest has been expressed in the sale of this parcel for a community shopping center,” he said.

The land office is considering multiple options. Vierck said any sale would happen via public auction with a minimum price, and proceeds would go to kindergarten through 12th-grade education.

Vierck said the land is part of a 592-acre planning and development lease to Paseo Gateway LLC, which has been doing planning and development work.

The land office has sold land in the area in the past: the tract for Cleveland High School and the parcel for Cleveland Heights residential development.

“We feel like the area is in desperate need of retail services,” said Paseo Gateway member Greg Campbell. “We’d just like to get some good community involvement to let us know what they’d like to have.”

The New Mexico State Land Office is considering selling the parcel of land labeled “Tract 2,” shown here on this map.
(Photo courtesy of New Mexico State Land Office)

He said Cleveland Heights has 218 houses, and the developer is about to start Phase 2 of that subdivision, which will double the number of homes. With the other current and planned neighborhoods, he expects more than 2,000 homes in the vicinity eventually, plus 2,000 employees already working in City Center.

“I don’t know how many gallons of gas they waste going to the grocery store,” he said.

Vierck said residents not having to drive as far to shop would improve air quality.

Also, developing the vacant land would increase property and gross receipts tax revenue for local governments. Campbell said no property taxes are paid on the land now because it’s state-owned.

At the public meeting, former land office employee Joe Mraz asked why the office was contemplating a sale instead of a lease.

Vierck said the potential developer requested a sale and lenders want to see sales rather than even long-term leases when considering a loan for a shopping center.

“This probably needs to be a catalytic development,” he said.

Vierck believes the construction of a shopping center would draw more people to the vicinity, intensifying development.

If Commissioner of Public Lands Stephanie Garcia Richard decides to sell the land after reviewing public comments, Vierck said, law requires a public auction, with at least 10 weeks of soliciting bids in advance.

Jarrod Likar of AMREP Southwest asked when bids would be solicited if Garcia Richard decided to move forward. Vierck estimated it would take about four months after the public comment period.

Campbell encouraged residents to give input on what they want done with the land.

“You have a chance to build an environment here, brand-new, and whatever the community wants, basically,” he said.

To comment, visit nmstatelands.org/paseogateway, or send mail to SLO Public Affairs, c/o Alysha Shaw, PO Box 1148, Santa Fe, NM 87504. For more information, visit the website or email Vierck at svierck@slo.state.nm.us.