Alamogordo Housing Attainability Need for Zoning Changes and a Clear Plan


Alamogordo is at a crossroads with respect to growth, business development and affordable and available housing. Like much of the nation housing affordability is a significant issue. There are developers looking at options to expand the opportunity for expanded home ownership within the city limits.

There is a proposal before the city commission brought forth by the French Brothers Development Corporation and it’s a good first step to building more new and more attainable housing. The item on the agenda is to “consider , and act upon Ordinance 1697 Case Z-2024-0002(A) for first publication of a map amendment
to rezone Somerset Subdivision Phase 1 from R-2 Townhouse Dwelling District to Planned Unit.”

We strongly encourage the commissioners to affirm the change to zoning as recommended and allow this project to move forward. 

We have watched and listened as the French Brothers and other members of the development community has been diligently working over the last year to address attainable housing

French Brothers over the last 10 months, in Alamogordo has worked with community input, reviewing sales data over the last year of housing sales within Alamogordo, and has been working with the planning leaders within city government on creating a plan for more attainable housing yet still ensuring they operate profitably to ensure sustainability of jobs for its local employees. 

The current pricing of new homes is unsustainable and does not foster economic growth in Alamogordo over the long term. 

According to Kevin Jewell Jr., the president of French Brothers Development, “home prices are primarily determined by two factors: the cost of the land and the cost of materials and labor to build the home. In Alamogordo, both factors are expensive. Despite the significant increase in home prices over the last three years, our profit margins on each home have decreased significantly.” spent some time with Mr Jewell last year, to better understand the construction landscape in Alamogordo, our discussion was insightful and informative.

This week we followed up with Mr. Jewell and his team, to discuss what steps his company has made in a plan to bring more attainable housing to the Alamogordo market. 

Mr Jewell explained to us that,”French Brothers has been striving to achieve a revision of the ordinances in Alamogordo to allow for higher density building. By reducing the required size of lots, we can substantially impact the price point of homes. However, this presents a challenge as high land costs necessitate a certain level of home to meet appraisal requirements.

In our neighboring city of Las Cruces, homes start at $249,900, whereas the same home in Alamogordo starts at $295,900. The majority of this cost difference can be attributed to land requirements. Las Cruces has been successful in creating ordinances that offer flexibility in the types of homes allowed. We are currently collaborating with city officials and the mayor of Las Cruces with the aim of introducing a product starting at around $200,000 in sales price.”

Alamogordo is facing a housing crisis not only in terms of affordability but also availability. The amount of job loss that would be created with no new home development would be huge. Conversely, an increase in housing development greatly increases job requirements and employment opportunities for locals thus helps the overall economy and small business growth. Alamogordo needs the addition of more new housing options and is in a similar situation as Las Cruces with respect to attainable housing.

Mr Jewell continued to update us with his thoughts, “In Alamogordo, aside from renting apartments, there are limited options for attainable housing…

Here are two examples. There are plenty of lots in Mesa Village on the North side of town. However, the lot cost of those lots and the covenants required to build in that community puts our starting price at $395,000. That’s the starting price.”

The development we’re (French Brothers) is trying to do with the proposed Sommerset  development, with smaller lots and different ordinances we’re targeting a mid $250,000 and below starting price point. I know that is still high to a lot of people, but it is a step in the right direction in a significant manner. It’s not that we don’t want to build in Mesa Village, but a very limited amount of people can purchase homes in that price point.

In 2023, there were over 600 home closings in Alamogordo. Over 80% of those closings had a price point below $275,000. The major share of it coming in the $200,000 - $250,000 price range.” 

Mr Jewell added, “we have also committed to the city that we would help build on vacated lots where homes have been torn down. It’s a great opportunity for an investor to come in and allow us to build them some type of multi-family project. However, with current ordinances it’d make it almost impossible for us to accomplish this.”

The chart below shows  the current zoning requirements and how they compare to other cities that are prospering and better equipped to recruit development with alignment in zoning regulations.

French Brothers as the largest developer in Alamogordo, and one of the largest in the state has taken a proactive step in investigating issues surrounding growth of attainable housing and is working in the hopes that city leadership will act  to align local standards with those of Las Cruces and other cities in New Mexico.

Mr Jewell suggested that they have “acknowledged the fire department's requirement of 7.5 feet between lot lines if there are two stories adjacent to each other”.

Given the information and comparison of Alamogordo zoning and development regulations verse those of Las Cruces and elsewhere in New Mexico, it’s time for the Alamogordo City Commission, to show leadership and to make the necessary adjustments to city ordinances to better enable development and developers such as the French Brothers and others to build more affordable and attainable housing options.

The long-term solution is to have a 30-year development plan of increasing the population and strengthening our economy. 

Statistically speaking, Alamogordo’s growth rate comparatively to the rest of the state and nationally would put it at the back end of any performance metric.

Mr. Jewell said to us during our interviews that a goal of his has been to lead on attainable housing and create a product more attainable to more Alamogordo citizens.

For the eight years that I have been with French Brothers I have always heard the need of attainable housing in Alamogordo. It’s crazy to think we’ve made almost no progress in achieving that, both as a builder and as a city,” until recently said, Mr. Jewell.

Mr Jewell concluded with us,  “I want to be very clear; I think that the City Manager is doing a great job on implementing change. What he and Stella as the city planner have done for us with Sommerset here recently is amazing.”

Commentary:, and our constituency believes that the best way forward for economic growth within Alamogordo is to have a strong housing sector, that is actively engaged in new building and construction at a variety of price points

Everyone cannot afford a $395,000 home and above at Mesa Verde, but most people strive for the opportunity of home ownership. Most young couples, military families and singles want the opportunity of home ownership with a goal to eventually, trade up

Building home equity is the foundation for generational wealth. That opportunity only comes from a city with a variety of new construction and new home purchase options.

The Summerset project, as proposed is a move in the right direction, and should be embraced and affirmed by the commission.  

With leadership by the city commissioners, and the courage to modify the building ordinances and aligning them with Las Cruces, they then lay the foundation for more ambitious projects and open the door for more potential investment into creating more attainable housing for locals and the future of Alamogordo. 

There is positive momentum for an economic recovery within Alamogordo.

The Summerset project would be a jobs creator, a new planned apartment complex is close to being announced as approved to move forward that would create more jobs and more housing options. The New York Avenue redevelopment is moving forward,  bids are expected soon to be submitted to begin shovel work by late fall. Five new business in the New York Avenue district are soon to open. The Chamber of Commerce rebranding is driving a new vision forward, if they focus on the core membership directive of business development without bogging down in battles not core to business development, it will have a positive community impact.  

There is great momentum forward and diverse constituencies, each pushing a path forward, to achieve sustainable development and economic prosperity for the city of Alamogordo. 

The Alamogordo city governments role is to rid roadblocks to prosperity, and to ensure there are opportunities for business success

City government leadership, begins with ordinance updates, that provide for attainable housing construction, and alignment of those ordinances, to be consistent with the rest of New Mexico’s municipalities. 

Without attainable housing options, new business development and recruitment of higher pay employers will remain a dream verses a reality! 

The ball is now in the court of the Alamogordo City Commissioners, to lead and make the right decisions, to carry Alamogordo forward and update building and zoning ordinances.

Once updated, then the city government should get out of the way, and allow the free market of the business community to engage, build, develop and grow Alamogordo and its citizens to greater prosperity. 

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