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ALBUQUERQUE-Most multifamily experts in Albuquerque are anticipating a dramatic turnaround, forecasting that the city is poised to rival the heyday of the Silicon Valley.

The slightly negative or flat stats from the first quarter haven’t dampened the pros’ outlook. Bill Fox, senior investment adviser and head of Hendricks & Partners’ Albuquerque office, cites published accounts to GlobeSt.com that Sandia National Laboratories last year spun off 13 companies. This year, another 22 new firms will be spun off from the Sandia labs. The ventures support miniscule machines–microsystems and nanotech–products that are smaller than a human hair.

Sandia National Laboratories is partnering with the University of New Mexico to develop technology for the $14-billion industry. By 2004, the industry is expected to reach $30 billion. Fox and everyone else in the city hope the tiny technologies will be enough to catapult Albuquerque into a national leader for the industry.

Fox expects the benefits of the growing industry will be evident in a year to 18 months, with regard to the impact on the city’s multifamily market. Certainly, the 500 new jobs coming from Healthcare Service Corp.’s call center consolidation to Albuquerque offer a good start for upward mobility for the multifamily sector.

On the supply side, the pipeline is holding a 588-unit complex in the city’s northwest sector and another 288-unit project in the northeastern tier. Fox expects the complexes will fill fairly quickly because they are in “high-performing areas.”

Rent is up 0.4% over last year. However, some $99 move-in specials signify concessions have entered the market, Fox points out. Vacancies rose from 6.1% a year ago to 7% at the end of the first quarter. Negative absorption was 355 units.

Fox stresses Albuquerque is an attractive apartment market to investors right now. The town’s high expectations are raising property values. Unlike Denver, which has “topped out,” Fox says Albuquerque is delivering per unit selling prices in the mid-$30,000 range, a number he believes will go up another $10,000 per unit in the next few years.

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