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Town Plaza apartments subject of court proceedings

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A fence has been placed around the boundary of the Town Plaza apartments at South Sunset Avenue and West McGaffey Street by owner representatives. The apartments closed in late January. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

The owner of the now-closed Town Plaza apartments is in court with a Clovis bank regarding possible foreclosure of that property and a Ruidoso office complex.

But representatives of the owner have also talked about a possible sale of the apartment property.

Lawyers for the owner, Lawrence Edmisten III, and the bank, Citizens Bank of Clovis, have been working with courts since May 29, 2018, when the bank filed two lawsuits, one in New Mexico’s 5th Judicial District Court in Chaves County regarding the Roswell apartment complex at 1201 W. McGaffey St. and another in 12th District Court in Lincoln County pertaining to an office complex in Ruidoso on Mechem Drive.

The office complex is a matter of a legal dispute because alleged nonpayment of a loan on the Roswell apartments since December 2017 prompted the bank to call two loans on the Ruidoso property due as well.

A written response filed on behalf of Edmisten regarding the Lincoln County property denies default on the Ruidoso loan agreements and disputes some of the other assertions by the bank.

Edmisten’s lawyer, Joseph Walsh of Santa Fe, said he and his client have no comment at this time. The lawyer for Citizens Bank, R. Max Best of Portales, also declined to answer questions.

Town Plaza officially closed in late January. That followed the posting of notices on tenants’ doors on the evening of Jan. 7 by city of Roswell crews. The notices indicated that the city considered the property “dangerous, dilapidated and damaged” and would begin condemnation proceedings unless the apartment owners fixed problems or otherwise resolved what were called “health and safety” issues.

Acting upon tenant complaints, city staff said they visited the property and found numerous problems, including water and sewer leaks, structural deterioration, roof leaks, exposed electrical connections and vacant units being used by non-tenants.

The city notified all tenants to vacate the building by Jan. 22, providing temporary housing for about 10 people who had yet to find alternative living arrangements, and it turned off city utilities to the property soon thereafter.

Edmisten did not return several phone calls and emails asking about the city’s actions and tenants’ complaints, but an on-site manager said at the time that some of the problems being blamed on management and ownership were the fault of tenants who did not properly care for their units, violated rules regarding pets or other matters, or did not report problems.

In the court documents, the bank alleges that, as of May 2018, Edmisten owed $1,470,863 on the loan for the apartments, which originally was a $1.5 million loan made in April 2016. Two loans were made on the Ruidoso property, one in January 2015 and another in January 2016, with the bank indicating that about $359,162 was due on those notes.

An owner representative indicated to a city official that a possible sale of the apartments was being worked on.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 311, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.