ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Construction on the long-awaited centerpiece of the Winrock Town Center redevelopment is finally underway. Breaking ground on a massive outdoor open space Wednesday morning, developers and city officials now say the highly anticipated park and lake will be open by next year.

Owned by the Albuquerque-based Goodman Group since 2007, the Winrock site has been under a redevelopment plan for more than a decade. As far back as 2011, developers described plans for an outdoor shopping and entertainment center with a possible scuba tank and rock climbing wall on the site.

While some of those ideas haven’t taken shape, developers say the goal is still to build out a “mixed use development,” with hotels, apartments, restaurants, retail, office space and the big park tying it all together.

“Our desire since the beginning is create a place where one can live work play and shop, all in one place, a true community,” said Gary Goodman, CEO and owner of the Goodman Group. “We’re just getting started.”

Goodman Group officials and Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller shoveled the first scoops of dirt on the park site Wednesday morning. Renderings show the park is expected to include grassy outdoor spaces with trees, shaded seating areas, walking paths, a round gazebo-like structure, a nearby dog park and multiple bridges over a massive lake which will be filled with water treated on-site.

A rendering of the planned Winrock Town Center park expected to open in spring 2023

“That’s reclaimed water [in the lake,]” said Darin Sand, vice president of development for the Goodman Group. “For us, it didn’t seem responsible to put potable water in a large water feature like this.”

Winrock officials say they’re working with the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority to build a water treatment plant on site of a former city recycling center, near the old Macaroni Grill. Sand said Wednesday the plant will treat water used for cooking and cleaning on the Winrock property, then pump that water into the lake. The same water will also be used to irrigate plants on the property.

The public park is expected to open by spring 2023. The City of Albuquerque Parks and Recreation Department will ultimately be in charge of maintaining the park after its built, according to Mayor Tim Keller.

“The community element is what we’re celebrating today, this Town Center, this park and this pond is going to be something I think the entire state of New Mexico will come to see and come to visit,” Keller said during the groundbreaking ceremony. “It will be one those amenities, whether its Tingley Beach, or whether its isotopes park, people will say, ‘oh yeah, have you been to Winrock Town Center?'”

Developers also highlighted what’s already been done on the sprawling Winrock site and what’s still ahead. Over the last decade, crews shuttered and demolished much of the indoor mall, paved new roads through the site, built a parking garage, and rebuilt or remodeled several new retail, office and medical spaces on the site. Today, Winrock hosts a subscription-based gym, a 16-screen movie theater, 100,000 square feet of medical space and 13 restaurants.

A closer look at the site plan for the central part of the Winrock development as of May 2022.

Developers are still planning to build two outdoor cafes alongside the park and lake. Surrounding the park, developers have outlined plans for a trolley circuit, a 150 room hotel with upper-floor luxury condos, and hundreds of new apartments with ground-floor retail space in a four-story building overlooking the lake.

No timetable was mentioned for those projects Wednesday. Eventually, Sand says the park and lake development will serve as a backdrop to a planned 750-seat amphitheater.

“You can expect events like theatre under the stars, movies at night, yoga on the grass during the day,” Sand said. “We also have a children’s play area, walking paths and a educational kiosk.”

In addition to the plans for the park area, developers said Wednesday they’ll begin work on a new 150 room hotel next month. That will be built near the women’s Dillard’s building.

By the fall of 2022, Sand says crews will also be working on start building over 200 apartments on the northeast corner of the property. An additional three-story office building is expected to begin construction by the end of 2022, near the old Montgomery Ward’s building which now houses New Mexico Orthopedics.