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ALBUQUERQUE-Following months of deliberation and speculation, escrow has closed on 57,000 acres, known as the Atrisco Land Grant. Mixed-use developer SunCal Cos. of Irvine, CA, in conjunction with New York City-headquartered D.E. Shaw Group, paid $250 million to acquire Westland Development Co. Inc. and its land grant, which was handed down to settlers by the King of Spain in the 17th century.

Over the years, many developers tried, but didn’t succeed, to encourage Westland Development shareholders to sell their shares for the land fronting Interstate 10, just west of Interstate 25. During late November, more than two-thirds of Westland Development shareholders voted to accept SunCal’s $315 per share offer.

SunCal’s offer was put on the table in early 2006. Shareholders, primarily heirs of the original settlers, had concerns that too much progress might destroy the history inherent in the land. A spokesman with SunCal says, however, that this won’t be the case.

“When we start with the process, we want to apply historical laws that came with the 450-year-old charter on this land,” the spokesman tells GlobeSt.com. “That was actually a comprehensive governing document that has several urban planning principles that are relevant today.”

Such principals, he continues, involve concepts seen both in Mexico and Latin American countries: pedestrian-friendly communities that boast efficient and expansive spaces, rather than urban sprawl. To better reach this goal, the spokesman says SunCal will have a series of meetings with residents and city officials throughout the region to maintain the integrity of the acreage.

Also waiting in the wings is urban planner and architect Stefanos Polyzoides of Pasadena, CA-based Moule & Polyzoides, who designs urban-oriented projects. “This is an inclusive planning process,” the spokesman says. “The plan is to create this with input from citizens, elected officials and city staff.” He adds that planning on the parcels future is just in the starting stages, and speculation on actual construction or square footage is premature at this time.

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