Route 66 News

Tucumcari considers offering abandoned property to businesses at low cost

The Quay County Sun newspaper reported a county commissioner is proposing that Tucumcari, New Mexico, essentially give away abandoned property to businesses.

Under the plan, the city would make some abandoned properties and buildings it owns available to new or expanding business at low or no cost, thus providing an incentive for businesses to grow or locate in Tucumcari, according to Fifth District Commissioner John Mihm, the idea’s chief promoter. […]

Watson proposed a series of steps that the plan’s development could follow, including establishment of processes and procedures, program promotion and client recruitment, property development, setting commitments, goals and objectives and continuing management assistance.

She said the small-business center could help business owners who take advantage of the land offer with planning, forms and applications and counseling.

City officials seemed enthusiastic about the idea, but noted Local Economic Development Act restrictions could keep them from giving away property. So the city took no action.

It would seem prudent the city council find a way around those restrictions. It was noted at the meeting that Paducah, Kentucky, revitalized itself with a similar program in its historic Lowertown section. A brief description of the program:

While the financial incentives offered by the city were limited to dilapidated housing at little cost (often as low as $1) and professional design fee assistance of up to $2,500, the intrigue of becoming a part of a true art enclave proved irresistible.  To date, LowerTown artists/residents, primarily through a generous and innovative financing arrangement offered by community partner Paducah Bank, have invested over $30 million in restoring this model community to its previous glory.

Detroit is trying a similar program by offering houses in a historic neighborhood for $1,000 if they’re brought up to code in six months and the owner lives there. Detroit, with its myriad problems and a pending bankruptcy, is an extreme case. But the program is being met with a lot of enthusiasm.

In the case of Tucumcari, it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to see how Route 66 could benefit from a similar program, especially if an artist’s enclave is set up in some of the abandoned motels along the corridor. Look no further than the photo at the top of this post.

In the same story, Rob Morper, who owns a real-estate brokerage, also said Tucumcari “is not even scratching the surface” of its tourism potential. That’s an issue for another time. But if Tucumcari adopts the Paducah model, the tourism problem would largely fix itself.