ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The old Firestone building at the corner of 7th and Central in Downtown Albuquerque will soon see new life. “Nothing has had a presence there, a public-facing presence there, for quite a long time at that corner,” says the owner of Ex Novo Brewery, Joel Gregory.

A place once known as a hot spot for classic cars during cruise nights along Route 66 will transform into a large taproom, restaurant, and beer garden. Ex Novo, a well-known Corrales Brewery, is opening its second location right in the heart of downtown. “I mean, just the location in general – being right off Central on Route 66, with the potential for a large patio outside, right across the street from great music venues,” Gregory says.

He’s had his eye on that spot for more than two years and believes it’s the perfect location to attract a whole new demographic of beer drinkers. “People are talking about downtown and getting excited for what it can become and what it’s already becoming, and so we’re really stoked to be a part of it,” says Gregory.

After a tough few years marked by high vacancies in downtown storefronts, Danielle Scholbohm, the Director of Downtown Albuquerque Mainstreet, says it hasn’t been an easy journey. “Downtown has definitely had its ups and downs, it’s definitely still kind of trying to come up from the pandemic,” she says.

Ex Novo is just one example of the comeback, post-pandemic. “It will be a fun spot for folks to come hang out and join in the downtown fun,” Schlobohm says.

According to the organization, more restaurants and housing efforts are moving into downtown, even the expansion of the Siembra Leadership School. “Downtown has a bit of a reputation for people feeling a little unsafe down here, but one of the things that help bring a community back is actually bringing more people to it,” Scholbohm said.

Ex Novo hopes to be finished with the project by late 2023.