ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) –It could be a $20 million dollar development coming right after the street from the Railyards. However, the ambitious plan has divided some in the area over whether it would be good for the Barelas neighborhood.
The lot spans the block between Second and Third Street on Santa Fe in the Barelas neighborhood. “This conversation with this development has been going on for some time in the neighborhood as I understand it, almost 15 years,” said Keith Romero, chair and president of the Barelas Community Coalition, a non-profit partnering with the developer ‘Palindrome’ to create a three-story, 69-unit apartment building with room for seven micro-retailers. The hope is to get local business owners into the space.
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“This project in particular, we liked it because besides fitting in our mission we have an opportunity to influence what comes out there, how it comes out there. We can also hold the developer accountable to Barelas. It puts us in a better position,” Romero said, “If you’re not at the table you’re probably on the menu, so to speak, and this gives us an opportunity to be at the table and have some sway on that.”
Romero said it will bring more housing to the community, and also help drive commerce, but not everyone is convinced that’s the right move. “It was already zoned for apartments, it didn’t need to be zoned for commercial as well because this is a residential area,” said Crystal Garcia, member of Residents of Barelas. “We have mostly single-family homes. That’s what the neighborhood is mostly made up of. There are some businesses on Fourth and here and there but those are actual like corridors for businesses. This is not meant to be a corridor for businesses.”
Another concern? The plan calls for just 20 parking spots. “I just think that’s absolutely ridiculous to have that much parking for that many apartments and businesses,” Garcia said.
Romero acknowledges concerns over gentrification in a community that has been around for hundreds of years. “We want to keep that historical aspect to it but also we have to I guess lean into the future a little bit but if we can do it to the benefit of Barelas that’s I think our board’s ideal,” Romero said.
The Barelas Community Coalition is in the process of applying for federal funding. If all goes to plan, they hope to begin construction in 2025. An appeal to block rezoning on the property was denied last month.