ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The city of Albuquerque has released its final report ranking the sites where the future 300-bed “Gateway Center” homeless shelter could be built and there’s one site the city is giving top billing.
While Mayor Tim Keller’s administration says it hasn’t made any final decisions on a place for the Gateway Center, out of the three sites that came out on top in the city’s report, the University of New Mexico location near the Cancer Center ranked the highest.
Coming in second and third place behind the UNM lot include the Coronado Park site and the Gibson Medical Center property near Kirtland Air Force Base.
The mayor has made building a Gateway Center one of his top priorities.
In an October interview with KRQE News 13, Keller said, “This is about us taking a first step, a commitment to stepping up and saying we have a real homeless problem and we’ve got to step up and deal with it.”
At a meeting of Albuquerque City Councilors and Bernalillo County Commissioners Thursday, city staff explained what’s next for the project.
“We hope to have a site selected by spring,” said Lisa Huval, deputy director for the city’s Department of Family and Community Services.
According to the city’s report, the UNM site west of the UNM Cancer Center scored the highest rating, earning 15 out of 18 points on the city’s site scale. The top-ranking is based in part on the property’s size, close links to transit and distance from surrounding neighborhoods.
The UNM site has already been subject to public forums at the university and may carry the most heated debate. According to emails obtained by KRQE News 13, the head of UNM’s Cancer Center has already said many staff has concerns about the shelter being next door.
“As soon as we have a site selected, we will begin working with surrounding neighbors,” Huval said during the Thursday city-county meeting.
In the second place, the Coronado Park site at Second Street I-40 scored 12 out of 18 points on the city’s site scale. The lower-ranking was based in part on the fact that the city would have to buy some surrounding lots and they’d need to change some of the land’s zoning.
The Gibson Medical Center location at San Mateo and Gibson came in third place with 11 out of 18 points on the city’s site scale. The lower rank was based in part on the property is privately owned, closer to some homes and further from transit stops.
The newly released report also covers the concept of potential converting the Crowne Plaza Hotel into a future shelter. However, at the Thursday meeting, City of Albuquerque Chief Administrative Officer Sarita Nair said the hotel is not in consideration because the potential cost of the building is more than the budget of the entire project.
While the city says it hasn’t picked a site yet, the UNM property is also the only property in the city’s report to where the city has commissioned several conceptual site plans of what the future shelter could look like.
The city is also planning for a news conference at the UNM site Friday morning to talk about what’s next.
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