ALBUQUERQUE (CN) – A nonprofit claims developers who made a deal for 50,000 acres that are the best place for fast-growing Albuquerque to expand reneged on an agreement to pay it $1 million a year for 100 years.
The Atrisco Heritage Foundation sued Westland Development Co. and affiliates and SunCal Companies Group and affiliates, in Federal Court.
The King of Spain issued a giant land grant in 1692 to encourage the settlement of Albuquerque. The Atrisco grant originally included virtually all of modern Albuquerque, but was whittled down during various revolts, reconquistas, annexations and incorporations.
Still, in early 2006, when Westland began selling more than 50,000 acres to SunCal, it was “one of the largest purchases of property in the Western United States and came about after years of negotiation,” the complaint states.
The Atrisco Heritage Foundation claims: “Knowing that it was competing with other potential buyers, SunCal included in its purchase offer the promise of establishing and financing of the Foundation in order to preserve the unique cultural legacy that was part of the heritage of the land.”
Westland agreed to the offer, the Foundation says: “Pursuant to the contract, defendants agreed to make annual payments of one million dollars ($1,000,000) to the Foundation for a total of one hundred million dollars ($100,000,000) over a period [of] 100 years, commencing with the first payment in December 2006.”
The good times lasted for just three years, the Foundation says: “In December 2009, defendants failed to make the one million dollar ($1,000,000) payment under the terms of the agreement and have made no payments since that time”.
Due to a combination of geography and the proximity of several Native American pueblos, the Atrisco lands are now one of the few avenues of expansion for Albuquerque, whose population has grown by 26 percent since 2000, to 546,000, according to city-data.com.
“The creation of the Foundation and its multi-generational existence was recognized as an explicit incentive for the shareholders to approve a sale of the Westland Company and its property to SunCal,” the complaint states.
The Foundation wants its $1 million a year, and damages for breach of contract, fraudulent inducement, misrepresentation and breach of faith.
It is represented by David Houliston, with Will Ferguson & Associates
Here are the defendants: the Westland Development Co. Inc., Westland DevCo LLC, Westland DevCo LP, Westland Properties LLC, SunCal, SunCal Companies Group, SCC Acquisition Corp. and ACC Acquisitions Inc.