ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The city of Albuquerque is rolling out its latest plan to help revitalize downtown. The “Downtown Forward” plan has seven strategies to help create a safer and more vibrant downtown. At a Tuesday press conference, Mayor Tim Keller acknowledged all the different plans, projects, and initiatives we’ve seen for downtown before. KRQE asked how this latest plan is different.
“It’s really sort of tying a bow around a bunch of one off initiatives and putting it together in a plan,” said Mayor Keller. “These aren’t one off efforts. This is going to be a plan for the ongoing future that is integrated with the businesses and with the city.”
He said the Downtown Forward plan ties together ‘glitzy’ projects like the Rail Trail and Rail Yards with the fundamentals like bringing more entertainment, housing, and safety to downtown. The plan includes projects KRQE has covered like the new public safety station on 4th and Central, bringing CNM film classes to the Rail Yards, and a program that would convert unused commercial office space into residential housing units.
But, it also included some initiatives like another round of storefront grants, which would give $500,000 to small businesses planning to grow in downtown. The city is also expanding its arts and cultures events downtown and said it will crack down on crime.
“If you come downtown to commit crimes, if you come downtown to disrupt people’s socialization, to disrupt economic development, we will take you to jail. It’s that simple,” said APD Deputy Chief Josh Brown. “We’re also here as ambassadors as well. If you need something, reach out to the officers that are downtown. If you have an issue or concern, reach out to the officers downtown.”
The city says it is working on adding $1 million worth of lighting in problem areas downtown. It’s also expanding it’s Duke City Ambassadors program into the evening hours, the program was formerly known as the Block-By-Block program.
Mayor Keller said the city is also working with the owners of parking lots, which he said can be hot-spots for crime. He said they are trying to revitalize those empty spaces, and gave the example of bringing a food truck lot to the parking lot of 2nd and Central.
According to the new plan, the city’s code enforcement will also conduct bi-monthly sweeps to identify violations, and plans to crack down on property owners illegally boarding up windows with fines.
In downtown last year, the city removed about 9,200 graffiti tags, cleaned up 198 homeless camps, and the Albuquerque Community Safety Department responded to 166 calls for service.