ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Thursday, developers were pitching their ideas to the city to bring more life to the East Downtown area, or, E-Do as they call it, and try to score a million dollars in grant money to help make it happen.
“East Downtown was dear to our hearts the second we laid eyes on it,” said Lauren Greene, the owner of The Grove Cafe and Market.
Greene and her husband opened their business on Central and High Street 14 years ago. “We loved E-Do and we’ve been dedicated to it ever since,” said Greene.
Now, even more, groups are trying to move in or re-do their spaces in the E-do neighborhood. “This is really terrific. We’re excited about it,” said Terrance Brunner, the Chair of the city’s Albuquerque Development Commission.
Thursday, commissioners met to discuss moving forward on the top three projects they think would help spruce up the Central Corridor from I-25 to the railroad tracks. Each project is asking the city for about a million dollars, though there is only $2.2 million up for grabs.
The first project is the remodel of the Imperial Inn Motel, which would include renovations and add two buildings for a boutique hotel, condos, a restaurant, and shops.
“To me, it’s a glaring opportunity to put something iconic on that corner to draw people to that site,” said Chad Rennaker, the President of Palindrome Development. The company is also behind the El Vado Motel remodel and several projects in the Sawmill District.
Also on the list, is the $9 million Springer Square Sky Link, a pedestrian bridge that would connect the convention center parking garage to planned mixed-use buildings filled with lofts and retail, where a building and parking lot currently sit at Marquette and Commercial Street.
“It makes it easier to get over to that other side over there across the train tracks,” said Will Ribbans, who lives in E-Do.
The third project would be an expansion of the Innovate ABQ development on Broadway and Central. The plan would be to renovate a small building part of the old First Baptist Church complex and use it for research and labs.
“I think you’ll see after that, that it’ll absolutely an incredibly dynamic site and an asset for New Mexico,” said Kelly Ward with Innovate ABQ.
Commissioners approved to move forward on all three projects and will now negotiate on how much each gets. City council will have to approve the final funding amounts.