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LAS CRUCES CITY COUNCIL

City TIDD board considers Campo Street renovation, Amador Hotel, plaza shade structures

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The Las Cruces City Council, meeting as the Downtown Tax Increment and Development District (TIDD) Board of Commissioners, focused much of its discussion during its regular quarterly meeting, held via video conference April 26, on future TIDD priorities within the special tax district.

(TIDD is a mechanism for funding public infrastructure. It was created by the city in 2009 to generate revenue within the downtown area for public improvement projects. TIDD is funded through existing gross receipts tax revenues, with additional funding from the New Mexico Legislature. The downtown TIDD district has a 25-year lifespan.)

TIDD currently has more than $5.2 million in funding.

There was informal consensus from the TIDD board at the meeting to proceed with the redesign and reconstruction of Campo Street, which is along the western boundary of the TIDD. Goals of the project are to redesign Campo Street to make it more accessible for pedestrians and to make the street look and feel more like a part of downtown. A design study is already underway and a public meeting for the project was scheduled April 29.

Funding for the redesign study, at $215,000, is included in the TIDD FY21 budget. Funding for reconstruction of Campo Street, estimated at $2 million, will need to be secured elsewhere.

The TIDD board is also interested in the development and construction of a business incubator, which could be operated on property along Griggs Avenue, from 100 S. Church St. west to 100 S. Main St.

The proposed business incubator is envisioned as a business hub for economic growth that would be accessible to community members. The proposed facility could include workspace and a retail co-op for small businesses, entrepreneurs and under-served communities. The cost for the proposed project, which would utilize TIDD funds, would be $1 million.

Two proposed TIDD projects will require further consideration.

Continued restoration of the Amador Hotel could cost as much as $5 million. City staff have recommended a phased construction and funding schedule to complete the restoration. The TIDD board believes partial TIDD funding may be needed to continue restoration of the former hotel, which is one of Las Cruces’ oldest buildings. A city council work session is scheduled for June 14 to further discuss restoration of the Amador Hotel.

A proposed TIDD project for the possible installation of shade structures – and potentially solar shade structures – at Plaza de Las Cruces will also prompt additional consideration by city council. The cost to install non-solar shade structures is estimated at $1 million, and solar would cost more. The TIDD board agreed that more information and discussion is needed before a decision can be made.

After the TIDD meeting, the city council convened a work session, also via Zoom, to review the city’s proposed FY2021-22 budget and Capital Improvement Plan (CAP). The new fiscal year begins July 1.

A proposed budget of $497.8 million was presented at the meeting. The presentation included a proposed technology improvement plan for city government and a list of council priority projects.

The council has until May 31 to adopt a budget and submit it to the New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration for review. Before final council action on the proposed budget, a public hearing will be conducted in May.

At the work session, the council also received a presentation from John Hummer regarding the establishment of El Paso Electric Co.’s (EPE) $20 Million Economic Development Fund. EPE has it will provide $1 million in funding annually for the next 20 years for economic development projects in Las Cruces.

The fund has been established at the Community Foundation of Southern New Mexico. Hummer, Ed Camden and Jerean Hutchinson will serve as board advisers and review funding requests.

Hummer said a May 10 public meeting will be conducted and awardees announced by the end of May.