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Residents to be relocated as Union Plaza apartment faces code violations

Some residents living at an apartment complex in Union Plaza were told to relocate after a code compliance complaint was filed.

On Jan. 18, code compliance inspectors determined the complex at 219 W. Overland Drive needed substantial repairs to be brought up to code. The owner was given a 30-day correction notice, but the property owner told the city that the repairs would not be made.

Sal Oritiz has lived in this building for 17 years.

“I would rather stay here. I’ve been here so long. All my friends and I know everyone here,” Oritiz said.

City officials said the issues with the complex included, structural violations, ventilation, plumbing and occupancy issues.

City officials said it is in contact with Rio Grande Legal Aid to help tenants through its Community and Human Development Department to find a new apartment if they are not relocated by the property owners.

“We can't do anything while (the residents are) in there, number one. Number two, we have given them all the right notices, and number three, we’re not here to throw anybody out. We're here to work with them,” said Don Luciano, the property owner.

The apartment complex is located in an area where a downtown arena could be built, but the city said the incident is not related to the arena.

Luciano said the fact that his property could potentially be in the arena’s footprint could bring new opportunities.

“That was a perfect plan (because) now is the perfect time for us to start looking at other avenues to do something with the building,” Luciano said.

City officials said the relocation of the residents is not directly related to the proposed downtown arena.

“The vacating of the property at 219 Overland is not related to the city's proposed Multipurpose Cultural and Performing Arts Center (MPC) project. As a reminder to the public, the city has advised property owners against evictions as a result of the proposed MPC project and the city has not issued eviction notices to any occupant or property owner within the area being studied as a potential location for the multipurpose center,” city officials said in a statement.

“The city does have a relocation assistance team and has committed to developing customized relocation plan agreements that meet the needs of individual occupants/owners within the MPC footprint. At this time, the city has not executed any relocation agreements.

“The apartment complex is located within the master planning area of the proposed MPC and within the 1,000 feet of the footprint of the convention center. City staff at City Council's request is evaluating the feasibility of locating the MPC at the convention center or within 1,000 feet of the convention center footprint, excluding the Abraham Chavez Theater.”

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