ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – It’s been more than two decades since Albuquerque’s infamous Blue Spruce Lounge in the International District was shut down and demolished- now, new life could finally be coming to the site. “The extreme demand for affordable rents in our community and I think it’s meeting a very underserved need and I think that’s why we’ll have demand there for these units when they become available,” said Felipe Rael, executive director for Greater Albuquerque Housing Partnership about the planned development.
The “SOMOS” affordable housing project is expected to fill the lot, and have a 70-unit complex on the corner of Central Ave. and Alcazar, near the fairgrounds. Officials with the project say it will be a mixed-income development, meaning some units will cost market price, and while other units will be cheaper. “Some of those being affordable for households under 60% of area median income,” said Rael.
Included in the development’s proposal is 1,000 square feet of space meant specifically for commercial use. Officials say that space could range from retail stores to food and drink spots. “We hope we’re not the only one to anchor that corner, but that other folks will do other investments after us,” Rael explained.
Just a block away from Central and Louisiana, safety and crime is a concern in the area. However, people familiar with the project say steps are in place to keep their residents safe. If it is approved by City Council, the property will have a key access gate, which will monitor who goes in and out of the property, as well as security cameras. “We’re running a business kind of like any other landlord in the city, and so if folks don’t feel safe and welcome in the place then we’re going to have issues,” Rael added.
The project will only happen if it is approved by City Council. if approved, groundbreaking could begin next year. Officials say construction is expected to take a year and a half.