Anyone who lives near the university, has walked around the neighborhood, stopped at the post office on Cornell, or parked a couple blocks away from The Frontier, knows about the Gilchrist House. As it stands (barely) it is at once an historic landmark (interesting commentary on what we value in terms of our own history) and a neighborhood nuisance. It may be time to say good bye...
A recent story by Kim Holland of KRQE Channel 13 sums up the status pretty well.
First home on east mesa may be leveled: 100-year-old house falls into disrepair
ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - The wood porch sags, the roof is caved in and the windows are covered with plywood.
The once beautiful home – which is more than 100 years old and located just south of the University of New Mexico on Cornell Drive SE – has been falling apart for decades.
But because the house holds a significant place in the history of Albuquerque’s development, the neighborhood, the current owner and the city have struggled for years to figure out what to do with it. Now, because it is so badly deteriorated, it appears a step closer to being torn down.
“The letter that I have from the planning department at this point is recommending that we allow the house to be demolished from a safety concern,” Albuquerque Mayor Richard J. Berry told News 13.
I would take issue with a few things said by the developer who currently owns the property--he seems quick to blame the neighborhood association for his problems. Interestingly at meetings with us he blamed the onerous requirements of the landmark and historical registry folks for making it impossible to claim the tax credits that would make it financially viable to renovate the property. I've only been "involved" as a board member of the University Heights Association for the last year and a half so I wasn't at any of the meetings where these 15 plans were shot down. I do know that the board supported a rezoning to allow limited commercial use WITH the renovation of the property AND the moving of the other houses (from Harvard) onto the property to bring rental income and contribute to the financial feasibility.
There was a community meeting last October to discuss one of the plans that the neighborhood association declined to support-- to build a 6,000 sq. ft. childcare center with capacity for 100+ kids.
Members of the UHA board met with the Mayor Berry last week. I have to say he was very generous with his time, and does appear to have real concerns about the situation, and an appreciation for the history of Albuquerque. It is complex. I'm glad I don't own the property, nor do I have the responsibility of recommending or denying a demolition permit....
NOTE: This blog post reflects my own opinion and assessment of the situation, and does not reflect ANY official neighborhood board opinion.
If you are interested in keeping informed, and getting involved in the University Heights Neighborhood Association, check out the website,....