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Tucumcari considers offering abandoned property to businesses at low cost May 23, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Art, Businesses, Towns.
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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.

(Image of a Texaco station converted into a park in the Lowertown section of Paducah, Kentucky, by Joel Abroad via Flickr)

Comments»

1. Gordon Radford - May 23, 2014

Great Idea!!

2. Bob Harmon - May 23, 2014

I can attest to the attraction of the newer developments in Paducah KY, one of our favorite weekend getaways. There are dozens of small shops and businesses all within walking distance of downtown. If Tucumcari can follow that example, it could be a great boost to encourage businesses and the visitors who are attracted to them.

3. Paul Peters - May 23, 2014

What a GREAT idea….Many towns in the U.k. could learn from this. My very first shop cost me £7500 (about $10,000) in 1988 in a town that had dropped in population from 16,000 to barely 3,500. The business grew, and we ended up with a small chain of shops selling gifts and homewares, and eventually a department store. The big thing about running any business is to keep expenditure to a minimum, and NEVER, EVER give up!!!! If I was just a few years younger I’d be on a plane bound for Tucumari!!!

4. Casey Gonzales - May 23, 2014

Downtown Mansfield Texas is working on attracting businesses to the area with a similar proposal and has developed a business group to oversee the project. The tax revenue that these new small businesses can create will offset the property cost and is being used as an economic commission incentive.

5. Michelle T. - May 23, 2014

Such forward thinking, way to go!

6. Ed Gowens - May 23, 2014

I love Tucumcari, having stayed at the Blue Swallow Motel, the best motorcourt on the Mother Road, and shopped at one of the best retailers on the Route, the Teepee Curio Shop just across the street. Tucumcari’s classic, neon-signed motels make the town one of the most memorable on America’s Main Street.

But making a living there is difficult. I recently read an article in ‘New Mexico’ magazine about Truth or Consequences becoming a popular artsy town. One of the artists profiled in that article gave up on fast-paced Los Angeles to have a kitschy, handmade-product shop in T or C. But she eventually had to fold and relocate back to L.A. because she just couldn’t make it.

Starving artists can’t survive on selling their wares alone, nor can a retail shop last just selling stock Route 66 souvenirs available everywhere. Even the beloved Teepee Curio Shop is just a fun labor of love and no moneymaker.

I completely applaud the property give-away effort and support any entrepreneur willing to make a go of it. But far from major cities, Tucumcari has only modest tourist traffic, and not likely enough to sustain a livelihood catering only to those who take the Route through town.

7. Jen - May 30, 2014

This is a terrific idea. But Tucumcari would also have to consider stepping up its own game in promoting and marketing the city as artsy or design-focused or the coffee and small-bakery capitol of NM or whatever sort of business seems to be gravitating to the area in order to drive that traffic in. Cambridge, Ohio is still known as a glass-making city! That sort of thing. Obviously the businesses need to be there, but the city itself needs to take a look, weigh the options, and begin promoting specific things as being part of Tucumcari.


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