Green on Gold
Builder appeals to the City Council for a large condo project in the university area
Neighbors say it would be too tall, too big and too dense. The developer says density promotes environmental conservation.
The four-story condo project proposed for 2000 Gold in the Silver Hill Neighborhood has been a sore spot for some residents who say the building would be incongruous with the historic district's look and feel. "Where else in the city do you have single-family houses with a four-story building towering over them?" asks Ellen Cline, who lives on Silver, a block away from the site.
The project's been in the pipe for about two years, says Rick Goldman, one owner of Sheffield Partners, the company behind the project. The city's Environmental Planning Commission heard in April the Sheffield Partners' plea to change the zoning for the lot on Gold between Terrace and Buena Vista. The rezoning would have allowed the 46-condo structure and a level of subterranean parking to exist on less than half an acre, but the request was denied. The developers appealed the decision, and the issue will go before the City Council on Monday, June 16.
Cline is a member of the Silver Hill Neighborhood Association, which has long opposed the condos. She fears the building's impact on a neighborhood she says is plenty dense. Parking is also a concern, she says, as the area already requires permitted parking, and the project wouldn't provide enough of its own.
Part of the eco-friendly concept, a priority for the company, Goldman says, is that people would use their cars less or maybe not at all, as the condos are geared toward those who want to lighten their carbon footprint. Each condo would be about 600 square feet and cost about $160,000.
Goldman says his would be a green building and the city's first LEED-certified structure. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, and Goldman says certification is difficult to obtain. The building would have a green roof of plants and grass, he says. Every aspect of the project, from the types of windows used to the flooring to how far materials have to travel is considered. "The type of design is part of what warrants the density," Goldman says. "This whole discussion is about whether we're looking to the future or just keeping things exactly the way they are now."
That area is already more dense than much of Albuquerque, Cline says. "If they allowed something like this in this particular lot, it would set a very bad precedent in the city." Cline adds that she's not against green buildings or even the design of this condo project in particular. It's just bad for the neighborhood, she says.
Sheffield Partners tried to compromise, Goldman says. The company axed some of the condos from the original plan, setting the fourth floor 28 feet back from the building's edge so it wouldn't be visible from the street. Cline says talk of compromise is disingenuous. "I attended every meeting there was," she says. "They presented a four-story building, and it's still a four-story building. They presented about 50 units, and it's still about 50 units." The changes have been minor and cosmetic, she says.
The developers made all the tweaks they could, Goldman says, while still keeping the plan financially viable. "This is a risky business," he says. "This isn't just a story about us vs. the neighborhood association. This is a story about where is Albuquerque going, and who makes those decisions."