Columbus Capital LLC Founder/CEO Jeff Branch, left, and COO Greg Gonzales during a meeting today at the Los Alamos Daily Post to discuss the contract they obtained in May to purchase Kroger-owned properties in Mari-Mac Shopping Center. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
By CAROL A. CLARK
Los Alamos Daily Post
Local area developers Jeff Branch of Santa Fe and his partner Greg Gonzales of Pojoaque obtained a contract in May to purchase Kroger-owned properties in Mari-Mac Shopping Center.
Branch and Gonzales are owners of Columbus Capital LLC. They stopped by the Los Alamos Daily Post newsroom this afternoon to discuss the project.
Branch and Gonzales explained that they have held a number of recent community meetings on the project and plan on holding more.
“We learned from our initial meetings that the visual appearance of buildings is important to the community,” Gonzales said, adding that from those community meetings the idea to construct new retail shops in front of the old Smith’s will now be incorporated in the project.
To assist with financing this large project, Columbus Capital responded to an RFP from LANL seeking to lease a facility with capacity to store construction materials for five years. Branch said they responded to that RFP and after the five year contract ends, their plan is to tear down the old Smith’s and build retail shops with apartments up above.
Plans also call for a hotel and green park area on the 7.5 acre property.
Los Alamos County Economic Development Administrator Dan Ungerleider said, “The County Community Development Department staff is excited that a local New Mexico developer has been able to obtain a contract to purchase these Kroger-owned properties. We are looking forward to learning more about the development and how it fits within the guides of the County’s master plan for its downtown.”
The project is scheduled to go before the Planning and Zoning Commission Wednesday, Sept. 28.
“If the vote is affirmative, we will move forward with acquiring the old Smith’s,” Branch said.
The ultimate plan is to build 360 apartments on the site with 25,000 square-feet of retail space in the first phase of the project, he said.
Branch explained that they have already purchased eight of the 13 condominium spaces at 800 Trinity, which houses Daniel’s Café and other businesses and offices, and the 820 Trinity Building as well as the property that houses the DMV and other businesses to the west of Mari-Mac. They purchased all three properties from Gerald Ohlsen.
As community developers Columbus Capital is committed to work with existing tenants and to honor their lease, he said.
The earliest we will start construction is spring of 2023 and all phases of the entire project may take 7-10 years,” Gonzales said.
In addition to the Mari-Mac project, Branch and Gonzales purchased the brown huts at 3500 Trinity Dr. in 2020.
“We have plans to enhance the community with this project and will be revealing our ideas soon,” Branch said.
Branch and Gonzales also have a contract pending to purchase a 17 acre tract of land on San Ildefonso Road near Los Alamos Middle School. The land is owned by the Sam Donaldson estate.
“We’re calling this the Arbolada Project. It is in the permitting or entitlement phase and will involve constructing 85 single family homes,” Branch said.
Columbus Capital LLC is headquartered at 810 W. San Mateo Ste. 200 in Santa Fe. It is a southwest commercial property company that specializes in mixed-use projects. The company offers retail, medical office, professional office, warehouse, residential, junior and large box properties.