PO Box 25181
Albuquerque, NM 87125
Josie and Charlie Pflieger raised their three grandchildren here. Retiree Judy Gallegos found an active, involved community here. “Here” is the Sawmill neighborhood, a former industrial area north of Albuquerque’s Old Town. Under the leadership of executive director Debbie O’Malley, and her successor, former Loan Fund employee Connie Chavez, the non-profit Sawmill Community Land Trust is developing an impressive array of affordable housing for low-and moderate income families and supporting the growth of a vibrant community.
Since 1999, Sawmill CLT, in partnership with the City of Albuquerque, has been transforming 27-acres of abandoned, damaged land, the grounds of a former lumber company, into Arbolera de Vida (Orchard of Life), an inclusive, multigenerational community. It currently boasts 85 homes of varying sizes; two apartment complexes, the Sawmill Lofts with 60 live/work units and Villa Nueva Senior Apartments with 46 units; and various community amenities, including a playground, dog park, and plaza. Future plans include a one-acre community garden and commercial development projects.
In 2004, with financing from The Loan Fund, Sawmill CLT purchased a 7-acre property neighboring Arbolera de Vida to further advance the area’s revitalization. Construction on the first development phase of Sawmill Village began in 2010 with The Artisan at Sawmill Village, a two-building, three-story complex with 62 rental units and 16 ground level commercial spaces.
Sawmill CLT’s relationships with residents, neighbors, city government, and with partner organizations and funders have been critical to its success. The Loan Fund has been an invaluable partner since 1998, extending over $1 million in financing for operating capital, land acquisition and real estate projects. In 2007, Loan Fund staff participated in the community’s one-day playground build with over 150 other volunteers. “Our relationship goes beyond financing—it’s about a shared mission of self-reliance and community control,” Connie Chavez notes.
The Pfliegers and Judy Gallegos cherish their community. “We know each other pretty well,” Josie offers. “It’s a safe place.” Judy sums it all up, saying, “…there’s no other place like this.”