“With a seasonal drop in inventory, single family home sales have slowed with values holding steady in our housing market,” said Ms. Coppler. “Buyers who are watching the market closely; particularly the increase in interest rates and stabilization of several federal tax policies, are beginning to move off the fence,” she noted.
Bob Quick | The New Mexican
Posted: Tuesday, January 04, 2011 This article was syndicated from the New Mexican, click here for a copy of the original article.
Business news made headlines in 2010, mainly because of the weak economy and persistent unemployment, which was the biggest business story of them all, especially if you lost your job and tried looking for another.
In Santa Fe, the October Labor Market Review indicated that the local unemployment rate was 7 percent, compared with 6.9 percent a year ago. The highest unemployment rate in Santa Fe in 2010 was 7.4 percent in March.
Through October, there was a loss of 100 jobs in Santa Fe in 2010.
For that same time period, three industries gained jobs. They were education and health services, government, and miscellaneous other services.
Losses of 100 jobs each were reported by professional and business services, wholesale trade and construction.
“The Santa Fe job market has been weak for over two years but is improving,” according to the state Labor Market Review.
But Larry Waldman, an economist formerly with The University of New Mexico’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research, said recovery will take years.
Vacancies popped up downtown and in shopping centers around town. Closures included Simply Santa Fe on the Plaza, which was owned by Armand Ortega. Negotiations are said to be under way for a new tenant.
Also closing were several restaurants, including A La Mesa, Railyard Restaurant and Cafe Paris. One downtown businessman said he’d heard more restaurants will close in this first quarter of 2011.
El Nido also shut its doors but promises to reopen soon. The Pink Adobe shuttered its doors after filing for bankruptcy but then, happily, was taken over by the Hoback family, which had started the Pink and vowed to keep it open for good.
Also, Whole Hog Cafe is moving from Cerrillos Road to Guadalupe Street.
In downtown Santa Fe, the Nancy Brown Custom Jeweler shop closed, and other jewelry shops experienced problems with the steadily rising price of gold. A higher price of gold for jewelers, of course, means a higher price for buyers.
Among the new galleries on Canyon Road is Vivo Contemporary.
Southwest Cash and Carry, a wholesale grocers supply store, also closed, but could reopen in Santa Fe in a different location.
Stores opening in 2010, included a second Sunflower Farmers Market, several cupcake bakers and two frozen yogurt businesses. And don’t forget the gelato shop at DeVargas Center.
Also opening was Monte’s of Santa Fe, a cigar, pipe and tobacco store near downtown.
Sienna’s Furniture on Cerrillos Road celebrated its first anniversary in 2010.
In the works for local retail are the new Super Walmart and a renovation of Santa Fe Place that could result in another name change for the shopping center formerly known as Villa Linda Mall.
Given the strength of the recession and the need to economize, it was no surprise that some new thrift stores opened in 2010. Among them were Back to the Rack and The Good Stuff.
Several Santa Fe banks ran into problems in 2010 and found themselves either being taken over by the feds or following orders from Washington, D.C.
Among them was Charter Bank of Santa Fe, which in January was purchased by Texas-based Beal Financial Corp. for an undisclosed amount after the bank ran into problems with its commercial and residential loans.
The new Charter Bank assumed all deposits of the former Charter Bank.
Beal’s $10 billion in assets were apparently what allowed it to take over Charter when no New Mexico bank could.
A few months later, federal regulators determined that New Mexico’s oldest bank, First National Bank of Santa Fe, had to reduce its commercial real-estate lending as part of an agreement with regulators.
First National Bank President and CEO Gregory Ellena said at the time of the feds’ intervention in the bank that the bank was profitable and well capitalized.
At about the same time, Los Alamos National Bank, the region’s largest, signed a similar agreement.
The Los Alamos National Bank plan called for the bank to come up with a new staffing plan for loans and to name a new senior lending officer.
First State Bancorporation, the parent company of First Community Bank, reported difficulties with non-performing real-estate loans and entered into talks with some investors. But the bank remained independent at year’s end.
Smith’s and its employees union started negotiating a new contract in May, but it wasn’t until October that they made a deal.
The agreement covers 2,000 New Mexican workers in 26 grocery stores and 11 fuel centers. The four-year contract was unanimously approved by workers.
A union representative said he was happy about reaching an agreement “in these hard economic times. Our employees will enjoy the best benefits around over the next four years.”
The president of Smith’s said the deal provided workers “one of the best total compensation packages in our industry.”
The union, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1564, also reached an agreement with Albertsons workers.
Santa Fe real-estate sales were mixed in 2010, with the number of sales rising for the most part as prices dropped.
In the city in the second quarter, the median sales price dropped from $307,500 to $288,000, according to the Santa Fe Association of Realtors. Prices in the county also fell, from $450,000 to $411,250.
In the third quarter, sales in the city of Santa Fe increased a little as the median sales price rose about 11 percent to $318,000.
The price in the county, meanwhile, fell to $389,000, according to the Realtors group.
Foreclosure issues played a part in local real-estate sales, but no satisfactory information about Santa Fe foreclosures was available.
Alan Ball, a local title company executive, said in his real-estate blog that Santa Fe real estate at the end of 2010 was “only slightly better off” than it was in the summer of 2009 — the depth of the downturn in the market.
The airline disappointed local travelers when on Aug. 23 it reduced the number of flights between Santa Fe and Dallas/Fort Worth to two round trips per day.
The discontinued flights were 2760, which left Santa Fe at 8:15 a.m., and 2761, which left DFW at 7:40 p.m.
Jim Montman, Santa Fe airport manager, protested the move, saying that the early flight to DFW “was our most popular flight” because it allowed for timely connections in Dallas to the East Coast.
The late flight from Dallas eliminated the ability for travelers to get to Santa Fe in the evening, he added.
American Eagle said it plans to resume the dropped flights April 5.
American Eagle still has two daily round-trip flights to and from Santa Fe and Dallas and another flight to and from Santa Fe and Los Angeles.
Santa Fe’s minimum wage — $9.85 an hour — looks like it will stay the same this year as it did last year.
A city employee familiar with the wage issue said, “It doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere.” The final decision will come in mid-January.
The city’s mandated minimum pay is linked to a government measure of price inflation. If inflation remains low, as it is now, the wage floor is likely to remain unchanged.
Even though the wage has been in effect since June 24, 2004, some business owners still don’t like it.
“I had to go from $15 to $17 per car wash,” said Squeaky CleanCar Wash owner Jay Ritter. “It also cut down on my volume.”
Santa Fe’s small manufacturing sector — with only about 800 workers — made the front page in May when the giant Caterpillar Emissions Solutions, a subsidiary of Caterpillar Corp., bought Clean Air Systems, a manufacturer of emission-control devices.
Clean Air was started in 1993 by Michael and Louise Roach and employed about 30 people at the time it was purchased.
Caterpillar said it planned to expand and hire more people because the company expected an increase in business.
Another local business that changed hands in 2010 was Santa Fe Southern Railway, the short-line railroad that runs between Santa Fe and Lamy.
It was bought out by the Australian company STI-GLOBAL. STI provides solutions to rail-safety issues in Europe, Australia and the U.S.
Purchase prices were not available for either transaction.
Santa Fe welcomed two new hotels, Hyatt Place on one side of town and Luxx Boutique Hotel on the other.
The city’s hotel/motel occupancy rates were slightly better in 2010 than in 2009.
Another hotel, the Santa Claran, opened on Santa Clara Pueblo land near Española. The property has
124 rooms and suites.