LAS CRUCES — Construction is apparently about to begin on the Las Cruces Regional Medical Center, a 30-acre medical campus to be built on property that used to be part of the former Las Cruces Country Club.
Las Cruces developer Bob Pofahl recently told the Sun-News Editorial Board construction of a medical campus, including a hospital, doctors’ offices, a residential rehabilitation and a long-term care facilty, was going to begin soon. Documents and applications for the project have been submitted to the city of Las Cruces.
Submission of construction documents and permit applications, with the start of construction, will prevent zoning of the 30-acre parcel from reverting back to its original single-residential designation. In August 2013, the Las Cruces City Council approved rezoning of the 30 acres to high-intensity commercial.
The city’s approval to rezone the 30 acres also included conditions that a Traffic Impact Analysis had to be filed with the city and approved by the traffic engineer. Also, a second access road to the proposed development had to be approved by the city’s fire marshal and traffic engineer.
“Last week, a subdivision plat was filed (with the city of Las Cruces) creating the lots for the medical uses,” said David Weir, community development director for the city of Las Cruces. “This action vests the zoning for the properties within the subdivision plat.”
Weir said that final design of the proposed hospital appears to be nearly finished. When completed, the plans will be submitted to the city for final approval. But the zoning for the medical campus is not in danger.
“(City) staff has recently had conversations with the architect for the hospital,” Weir said. “They are working (on) completing the plans for construction of the hospital.
“There is also a permit for site improvement, utility and access improvements to the property. Some of this work has started. … So, no, the property does not have to be fully built-out before November.”
Since the 30 acres were rezoned in August 2013, the city has only issued permits to enable developers to clear the parcel. Beyond that site preparation, no construction has begun.
“It’s just kind of sat there,” said Raymond Gutierrez, who lives a few blocks east of the former golf course and country club. “All it’s done is create a lot of dust and weeds. It looks like everything there, the trees and the grass has pretty much died.”
In late November, the Las Cruces Country Club filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. A trustee appointed by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Albuquerque has determined there could be assets of the former country club that could be used to pay some creditors who have filed claims. The country club’s 110 acres were sold in January 2014 for $7.1 million to Pofahl and a group of investors.
The sale was apparently contingent upon the city granting rezoning of the property so it could be redeveloped. Partial payment, for the property the medical campus will be built on, was made to the country club. But the remaining balance, believed to be $4.8 million, might be collected by the bankruptcy court to settle claims.
“The remainder of the former country club property, about 76 acres, has not been rezoned,” Weir said. “But conceptual plans have proposed the property could be redeveloped into a mix of multi-family housing, townhouses or condominiums, and a retail area. The entire 110 acres, if fully redeveloped, would be known as Park Ridge.
But specific details of when, or if, that happens, haven’t been disclosed either to city officials or the public.
“The remainder of the property retains its R-1 zoning and any development of it would have to meet the zoning and subdivision requirements of the R-1 zoning (single-family residential uses),” Weir said. “The owner could propose a PUD (Planned Unit Development) or zone change to allow different uses, but this would have to be reviewed by the P&Z (city’s Planning and Zoning Commission) and approved by the City Council.”