Vandals cause major damage to former Bank of the West tower in Albuquerque

Vandals cause major damage to former Bank of the West tower in Albuquerque

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) –  It’s a big blow for the iconic former Bank of the West tower on east Central. Someone broke in over the weekend, causing tens of thousands of dollars in damage by tossing things from the top of the building and even triggering the fire sprinklers.

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A Houston based firm, Route 66 Multi Family ABQ LLC, which now owns the two buildings at Central and San Mateo, is picking up the pieces. They’re trying to get started on some big housing projects but crime keeps getting in the way.

On Sunday, someone broke into the 17-story tower, then went up to the penthouse. Whoever it was, they started tossing things out the window, including a washing machine. “They came in here. They wrecked the place upstairs. It looks like they started a fire in the penthouse,” said Landen Nowak, the project manager on site.

That fire set off the building’s sprinkler system. Due to a broken pipe, parts of the building flooded. The water was shut off on Monday.  

Another victim in the mix of this is Lobo Internet Services. Their internet tower on top of the building was taken offline along with some of their equipment in the flooded basement. Now they’re working to get services back up and running.

“There is still a little more to do to get it 100%. The ongoing problem is we’ll have to haul 20 pounds of propane up the stairs almost every day to keep the generator running,” said President of Lobo Internet Services, Carl Muehlenweg.

The owners said they’ve made efforts to secure the building, but the fight has gotten tough. The project leaders said they’re hoping to get the problems fixed in the next couple weeks, and they are working with the city to increase police patrols in the area. While the vandalism is a setback, the owners hope to continue forward with the apartment conversion project planned for the shorter of the two buildings on site.