ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – There have been years of promises from the city to redevelop a high-crime corner tied to shootings and murders. So what is taking so long for the city to build something at San Mateo and Kathryn? News 13 asked the city about the holdup.

The city-owned lot used to be a strip mall shopping center, but they started tearing down buildings there in 2015. There’s new life on the horizon for the lot—but the city warns it could still be a while. “It’s kind of a vacant lot that’s been filled with weeds and just an area of town that’s also kind of really booming and doesn’t have anything there,” says Mariela Ruiz-Angel, director of the Albuquerque Community Safety Department (ACS). The agency handles emergency calls involving behavioral health, addiction, and homeless issues.

The lot used to be home to the Parkland Heights Shopping Center. However, after sitting empty for a decade and becoming increasingly crime-ridden, all the buildings on the lot were leveled by 2018. “It’s kind of confusing, but it hasn’t been there. They tore it down. I thought they were going to immediately build something, but they didn’t. So we’re just waiting for the project to be finished,” says Michael Johns, who works locally.

The city had plans to build a police station here, but by 2021 there was a new plan. Mayor Keller outlined a headquarters for the Albuquerque Community Safety Department. Voters passed a seven million dollar bond for that project last November. However, even now, around a year later, the block-and-a-half-long lot is still empty. Ruiz-Angel says it just takes time.

“We know that the pandemic changed the landscape for so many things – construction and workers – and so I think we’re now starting to be able to see that some of that has been recouped and we can start to move quickly,” Ruiz-Angel says.

The city is also considering a fire station, community space, and even a place for food trucks at the site. The project was met with some disagreement at a community meeting in April.

“I feel like we need some significant engagement from a good cross-section of the community that ACS is supposed to serve and that that’s a good use of that area,” one attendee said.

“To think that we’re gonna have you (ACS) in our community is very exciting. This is our best ray of hope for the city paying attention to our area,” said another attendee.

Ruiz-Angel says this location is ideal for a hub since they already get a lot of calls for service in that area. Ruiz-Angel says they already have a design for the property that isn’t yet public and they expect to break ground next year.

Just behind the 7-11 on San Mateo and Kathryn, there’s another vacant block that’s collecting weeds and litter. A developer has floated a plan for townhomes facing San Mateo with landscaping, a two-story building for offices or retail, and parking hidden in the back.