ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A plan to help rehab a stretch of Menual near the Big I is now ready go with a last layer of city approval. Albuquerque’s mayor signed the new Menual Metropolitan Redevelopment Area (MRA) Plan into effect Monday, aimed at enticing private development in the rundown area.

The plan covers a ten block area along Menaul near University that’s seen several businesses close over the last decade. A handful of national hotel brands have exited the area, while both local and national restaurants like the Range Café, Village Inn and Little Anita’s have closed along Menaul over the years.

City officials say the new MRA designation allows the city to facilitate the area’s “return to being a safe and desirable destination and business hub.” To do that, the MRA allows the city to offer financial incentives to developers to execute plans in the area. It also allows the city to prioritize new or upgraded public infrastructure like roadway construction, sidewalk improvements and other amenities.

KRQE News 13 profiled the redevelopment plan in December 2022. At the time, some nearby business owners mentioned issues with homelessness and more vacant buildings drawing unwanted attention. Mayor Tim Keller acknowledged the issues during a news conference Monday morning.

“This is an area of town that has been especially hit hard by, whether its poverty, challenges with businesses, or look, challenges with crime and even vagrancy,” Keller said. “We’re hoping this is the right time to set up with incentive structure through the MRA.”

The new MRA covers an area between I-25 to the west, the North Diversion Channel to the east, I-40 to the south and Phoenix Avenue to the north (just north of Menual). The area sits with Albuquerque City Councilor Tammy Fiebelkorn’s district. Fiebelkorn is credited with helping get the plan across the finish line after the idea for the plan started under prior city councilor Diane Gibson.

“There are some of these folks that have been at every single meeting, which says that there is real investment in this project by the businesses in the area,” Fiebelkorn said. “And as long as they’re invested, the city’s going to be invested, we’re going to make sure that this becomes something good for everyone in our community.”

The city says the new plan should also help “mitigate” some of the unsafe conditions of several nearby boarded up buildings. The plan also outlines ideas for slowing down through traffic, additional public art, even a possible dog park or electric car charging stations among other changes. You can look at all of the ideas in the plan here at this link to the full document on the city’s website.