BY MARCEL REMILLIEUX
Councilor David Izraelevitz’s comments at Tuesday’s County Council meeting concerning local businesses that have purchased their own property versus local businesses that have not are worth discussing. The portion of the meeting I am referring to can be viewed under Item 10B following the slide presentation at:
When I was asked last time, “What does the County have to do with the lack of restaurants in this town?’ this was my answer: Top-down, middle-management mentality with maybe a vision but clearly no experience or true understanding of the situation to back it up.
Councilor Izraelevitz, when you say: “If you have $100k, you can use it to either buy your building or enhance your business”, you are using cheap tricks borrowed from sophism to deceive your listeners. One is not disconnected from the other. Your building can and should be a solid foundation for your business. If times are hard, your building can be used as a piggy bank to help your business go through the storm. When you own your building, you have a financial interest in staying in the community long term. Once you decide to retire, you can sell your building and have a retirement package. When you spend $100k to renovate someone else’s building, you might invest in your business to some extent, but you mostly increase the value of your landlord’s building.
Real estate and business are strongly tied together. It’s interesting that you never mention the CB Fox building and the Fox family. They owned their building. When they sold it, it was a nice retirement package. They were anchored in the community for decades. And while they were conducting business, one can imagine that what they were paying for a mortgage was a fraction of the rent it would have been for 24,000 square foot building in downtown Los Alamos (usually between $20 and $30/sqft/year at this location in Los Alamos). Meanwhile, with rent increases of about 3% per year, you will always end up paying more and will never be able to stabilize building expenses.
To support your argument, you mention a number of what you claim are successful businesses. Have you looked at their financial statements? Do you know how much they pay for rent? When you say: “none of them are moving into their own property, presumably that’s a business decision that they made”, do you know if they made this decision or were they forced into making this decision because there is nothing available on the commercial real estate market for a reasonable price in Los Alamos? Again, I fear that you are deceiving your listeners. Out of the businesses you talked about, I know many who would like to own their space. I know many who are frustrated after paying rent for decades when they could have built equity on real estate during this time.
Your attempt to be a hypothetical business owner (https://ladailypost.com/an-open-book-q-is-for-qannabis/) does not give you the required experience to speak on the behalf of the small business community in Los Alamos. A vision is not sufficient. Staying on the County Council for as long as you have does not give you authority to speak about this topic of local economic development. How many real businesses have you created and run successfully? I am often surprised that you use the Kroger deal as a proof that the County can foster a successful business environment in this town and attract investors but you also often fail to talk about the non-compete agreement that is in place for whoever would like to move into a space at Mari Mac Village or the fact that nothing was put in place before doing this deal to do something with this huge piece of property at the entrance of our town.
Maybe we should talk about the LEDA agreement for the Marriott Hotel and Convention center on Trinity Drive? How is the County supporting small businesses in Los Alamos? Last but not least, I will do a quick comparison. If you had $1M to spend, would you spend it on a refurbished gas station: https://www.santafeproperties.com/…/202101744-1399…/ or on an adobe-wall building a few blocks away from the Santa Fe Plaza: https://www.santafeproperties.com/…/202000121-1322…/.
These are not just words, these are facts about the state of the commercial real estate in Los Alamos.