ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A group in the historic Barelas neighborhood is opening a community market that was put on hold earlier in the pandemic and there’s a bigger mission behind it than selling local goods.

La Esquinita officially opened just last week. The Barelas Community Coalition, which is the group behind the space, hopes it will be a place to bring people together as they work with the City of Albuquerque to revitalize the historic neighborhood. 

This new community market and food hall are located underneath the apartments on the corner of Fourth and Coal streets. The 8,000 square foot space has been in the works for the last couple of years. Organizers had planned to open it earlier this year but had some setbacks due to the pandemic. 

However, they are now slowly opening the space to the public. They want to attract more people to the neighborhood for COVID-safe shopping and eating on the weekends. People will find food vendors and food trucks at the space on Fridays from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m. They also have produce vendors on Saturday mornings from 8 a.m. until 11 a.m.

Organizers said they’re playing it slow until a COVID-19 vaccine is available. But they hope to eventually bring in more food and art vendors to ultimately bring in extra business to the neighborhood. 

“We’re very eager to bring this neighborhood back onto the map,” said Alejandro Saavedra Board Chair of the Barelas Community Coalition. “Primarily for the local residents to enjoy and to have, but a place that they’re proud of and want to partake of.”

He said last week and this weekend, they had dozens of people show up for the opening. Masks are required and social distancing and COVID-safe practices are in place. If you’d like to get involved you can contact them on their Facebook page.

The city has been working on revitalizing this neighborhood for years as many businesses there have closed or moved on. In just the past couple of years, crews restriped Fourth Street and have received funding for sidewalk extensions to slow traffic.