Albuquerque Business First
By Damon Scott / Reporter
PUBLISHED: Nov 4, 2014, 2:38pm MST
A group of Rio Rancho stakeholders are hoping an emerging development in the city will be an “across the river” job creator. The goal, they say, is to develop something other than another subdivision with rooftops as far as the eye can see.
Los Diamantes consists of 100 acres northwest of Westside and Unser boulevards, adjacent to the Presbyterian Rust Medical Center and a currently stalled Village at Rio Rancho retail development. Once completed, it would have hundreds of single-family homes on about 40 acres and a business park on the other 60 acres. The business park is the piece that Michael J. Skolnick said was his epiphany moment.]Skolnick has just completed the complex task of assembling the Los Diamantes parcels from 63 different landowners within that 100 acres. It took him eight months to do it, and now the project can move on to the entitlement phase.
“The epiphany came during one of our meetings that we should make half of [Los Diamantes] a business park,” said Skolnick, whom colleagues describe as Rio Rancho’s master land assembler. He has assembled land at high-profile developments over a real estate and sales career that started in 1973 with Roger Cox & Associates. Skolnick is the qualifying broker for Albuquerque’s Excalibur Realty & Investments, and projects he has worked on include Rio Rancho’s 150-acre Stonegate and Cuesta al Este, as well as Tierra del Oro and Ocotillo Hills, among many others.
Skolnick is a board member and chair of the public relations committee for the new Sandoval Economic Alliance. He has been working closely with politicians and developers such as Jeanie Springer-Knight to get Los Diamantes to advance quickly. Skolnick thinks entitlements will take about a year, and if all goes well the first shovels will be in the ground in the first quarter of 2016.
“We’ve taken the north half of Los Diamantes and turned it into a business park, fashioned along the lines of a Journal Center in terms of landscaping and look,” Skolnick said. Skolnick, Springer-Knight and others have been working with the city, including City Councilor Chuck Wilkins, on land-use planning changes for the Los Diamantes project.
“One of the biggest problems with attracting [potential employers] to Sandoval County is that we don’t have anything we can put them on that’s shovel-ready to go,” Skolnick said. “[Los Diamantes] would give them something they could get into in six to nine months.”
Springer-Knight says the location is a huge selling point too, as it’s near an emerging and newly branded “Unser Gateway,” which includes Rust and developments such as Unser Pavilion and future projects such as Springer Pavilion and Petroglyph Medical Plaza. Other residential projects have begun to see activity again nearby too, says Skolnick, who thinks the market is turning the corner in Rio Rancho.
One of the project’s keys to success, however, will be a successful extension of Westside Boulevard to service the development. Skolnick and Springer-Knight said Sandoval County Manager Phil Rios is supportive of it and is working to secure funds.
Los Diamantes will also be a topic of discussion at a Nov. 6 Rio Rancho Roundtable organized by NAIOP-New Mexico.
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