Albuquerque prioritizing Rail Yards, rail trail and new public plaza construction

Albuquerque News

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – From the Rail Yards to a few old motels on Central Avenue, the City of Albuquerque has its hand in tens of millions of dollars in redevelopment projects across town. A new report indicates which projects the city is aiming to finish up next.

Albuquerque’s Metropolitan Redevelopment Agency has outlined a new list of priority projects it will work on over the next fiscal year lasting through June 2021. The list includes a couple of new public plazas for Nob Hill and the westside along with a handful of projects to open up new paths to the Rail Yards.

One of the top projects on the city’s priority list is the proposed Rail Trail that could connect the Rail Yards and the Convention Center along the city’s historic railroad tracks and First Street. The multi-part project also consists of a proposal to add a new at-grade railroad crossing at Marquette, south of Lomas, underneath the MLK Jr. Boulevard overpass.

“There’s a lot of property owners along this area that want to redevelop,” Metropolitan Redevelopment Agency Director Karen Iverson said. “By anchoring a big public investment, we will start to see those properties revitalize.”

The proposed “Rail Trail” bike and walking path would extend more than a half-mile between Lomas Boulevard and the city-owned Rail Yards property near Hazeldine Road. Hoping connections will make a difference in advancing Rail Yards development, the city is also prioritizing projects surrounding the northern entrance to the Rail Yards property.

Over the next year, the city is hoping to get new tenants in the Fire Station and Pattern House buildings at the Rail Yards. It’s also in the process of reviewing proposals to revamp sidewalks, landscaping and roadway along First Street.

In Nob Hill, the MRA is also prioritizing construction of a new plaza at the De Anza Motel in what’s now a dirt patch out front of the revamped property. The plan is for an outdoor, shaded patio area serving beer, wine, and food alongside a dog run and game area.

On the west side, the city sees a similar idea for the corner of Unser and Central near the newer library building. The city wants the corner to be developed into a place for restaurants, retail, and food trucks.

“The Metropolitan Redevelopment program is really going at full throttle right now,” Iverson said. “Over the past 20 years, we have had an impact of $520 million of investment in the community, and this past year alone, we’ve had $120 million (of investment).”

The De Anza project is the next priority that’s expected to be open up with construction expected to be completed there by spring 2021. The city says each of these projects has some funding or is expected to receive funding needed to start construction.

Housing has been another recent focus of the MRA program. Collectively, the MRA’s various projects have added around 400 new units to the westside, Nob Hill, Sawmill, and downtown area in the last year.

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