Los Alamos County Council
Now that the Council has voted to terminate the Local Economic Development Act (LEDA) project for the six lots in 20th Street; it is time for Council to act quickly to use this land to help support local businesses. Two years ago, the Council agreed to donate the land to TNJLA in exchange for the economic benefits for a Marriott hotel and conference center project.
I opposed this LEDA deal in 2019 because I had concerns regarding the need for a downtown conference center and allocating all six lots in a prime downtown location to one project. There was also substantial public objection to this project and some recommended Council look for alternatives to the 20th Street lots for a conference center.
Comments obtained during the Los Alamos downtown plans public engagement process in 2020 should be compiled, including those who wanted something different at this location. Council needs to continue to engage the public on options they would like to consider for these lots and the approach for using them to support local business, housing, or some other community objective such as social service facilities.
These lots were originally subdivided in 2017 and the staff report to the Planning and Zoning Commission five years ago requesting the subdivision indicated that the County had received letters of interest on three of the six lots. Some things have changed since 2017. For example, the County can now support retail LEDA projects, while these projects were not allowed prior to last year. Under the current LEDA local ordinance, the County could directly support retail development projects just like we did for the hotel and conference center.
I encourage my fellow Councilors to ask staff to solicit proposals for these lots as soon as they are available. The County has some other lands that can be available for development. I asked the County Manager to provide a list during the April 5, 2022 Council Meeting. All these properties should be aggressively marketed for the benefit of local businesses or to indirectly support local businesses with workforce housing.