2012 deadline for Hotel Clovis development

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Hotel Clovis should either be in a private developer’s hands or torn down by 2012, according to Community Development Director Claire Burroughes. The city has owned the building since 2004.

By Kevin Wilson: CNJ staff writer

Cleanup at the Hotel Clovis must take place before any plans can be made for the future of the landmark.

The point was hammered home Wednesday by city officials, who staged a public hearing to explain remediation efforts that started last week.

The city, which has owned the building since 2004, has an “up or down by 2012” goal, Community Development Director Claire Burroughes said. That means by 2012, the building should either be in a private developer’s hand or torn down.

Remediation, Burroughes said, was necessary in either case.

“I do believe the hotel has intrinsic value,” Burroughes said of the 78-year-old structure, “and it would be a tragedy to see it go.”

GranCor of Albuquerque, which has an office in Clovis, will handle removal of asbestos, lead-based paint and pigeon droppings from the building, which closed in 1983.

“We can’t get (potential developers) walking in there with all of the hazards,” said Paul Encinias of Encinias Environmental, which is overseeing the project.

The remediation, paid for through three grants, has a deadline of May 31 for completion.

“There is going to be a challenge,” said Michael Nieman, environmental division manager for GranCor, “but we don’t see any problem in not completing things on time.”

Nieman said the project will be handled by a crew of 15 from GranCor offices in Albuquerque and Clovis.

Nieman advises citizens not to seek employment at the construction site because the crews are fully staffed, and the work is a specialized project with hazardous materials.

The project will be completed on a floor-by-floor basis, with Encinias Environmental of Albuquerque doing a walkthrough for each floor. Paul Encinias said there will be air tests for asbestos and lead-based paint, and visual tests for pigeon droppings.

The city wants to move the building on to a private developer, but hurdles still remain. For example, Burroughes said businesses can build on new property for $130 a square foot, but renovating Hotel Clovis would likely start at $169 per square foot.

Another problem is that the city only owns the hotel, and none of the surrounding property.

“We need parking desperately for anything to happen for any developer,” Burroughes said.

But City Manager Joe Thomas said owners of nearby land have an asking price well above the land’s appraised value. Burroughes said the city is trying not to use taxpayer dollars to make individual landowners rich.