Commission makes changes in hotel ‘Plan B’

Kevin Wilson

Going with what Mayor Gayla Brumfield called a “Plan B,” the Clovis City Commission passed three items in a special meeting Tuesday regarding the city-owned Hotel Clovis.

Tierra Realty Trust of Taos, which plans to convert the building — which many residents regard as a historic gem and/or albatross — into a series of low-income housing apartments. The plan by Tierra would develop 60 lofts in all — 31 in an adjacent building, and 29 in the Hotel Clovis with additional room for businesses.

Many of the city’s plans for the hotel were tied to an affordable housing plan it approved in May. The ordinance establishing the plan as city policy was overturned two weeks ago in a referendum election brought forth by petitions from the High Plains Patriots citizen group.

“You have to have Plans A, B, and sometimes C,” Brumfield said. “That’s why we are here today.”

The agenda items were all passed in 6-0 votes, with five commissioners and Brumfield present, Commissioner Dan Stoddard joining via telephone and Commissioners Juan Garza and Fred Van Soelen not in attendance.

• An ordinance was introduced to vacate the alley extending a half block north of Second Street adjacent to the hotel, and the half-block alley way south of Second Street.

The vacations would terminate public traffic through the half block. City Attorney David Richards said the alley wouldn’t be a dead end at the Chamber of Commerce, since alleys on that block run both north-south and east-west. So even with the half-blocks closed to traffic, drivers could still enter or exit at the Chamber of Commerce on Grand Street and or behind the Wells Fargo Bank drive-thru area leading to Pile Street.

The city would retain ownership of the alleyways and grant easements for utility services.

The ordinance was the primary reason for the special meeting. The ordinance can now come up for a final vote prior to Aug. 31, the trust’s deadline to finalize paperwork for Mortgage Finance Authority tax credits.

• An amendment of the current lease agreement between the city and Tierra Realty Trust was approved, with many changes relating to requests from Bank of America, the commercial lender financing the project.

Commissioner Randy Crowder asked Matt Kim-Miller, an attorney for Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, about some of the terms of the deal. Crowder said Steve Crozier of the trust had always stated the intention to develop lofts under an environmental LEED platinum designation, and asked why the agreement only mentioned LEED silver requirements.

Kim-Miller said the lower-grade requirement was in the deal to give leeway if something small goes wrong, and Crozier responded he still intends to build to the platinum standard.

• The development agreement with Tierra Realty Trust was approved. The agreement was to be approved before any development could take place, but language in the agreement depending on the existence, or lack of, an affordable housing plan.

The trust is required to make good faith efforts to construct the project within reasonable time to use tax credits from the Mortgage Finance Authority in 2010 or 2012, and do nothing to “impair, threaten or risk” the hotel’s listing on the National Register.

Kim-Miller said 2010 tax credits would require the project be complete by Dec. 31, 2012.

Rube Render asked Richards if a commitment letter, approved by a previous commission resolution, would still require the city to offer a $1.4 million loan to the trust.

Richards said that commitment was taken off the table with the new agreement, and the trust decided to find other funding sources.