ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – As New Mexico enters another shutdown and business owners try and stay afloat, a local developer is forging ahead with big plans to create more job opportunities in Albuquerque. The plan is six years in the making, and developers say the pandemic isn’t slowing down construction plans for a massive, mixed-use facility on the edge of Kirtland Air Force Base.
East of I-25 along Gibson, between Carlisle and San Mateo, Kirtland Air Force Base sits behind a long security wall separating the public from the base. “We will relocate that wall back about 560 feet to the south, and it’s all dirt right now,” explained Kevin Yearout, with Thunderbird Kirtland Development Corporation. “It was all old base housing.”
Yearout says they’re moving ahead with plans to break ground on a 70-plus acre mixed-use development, aimed to serve the public and the more than 26,000 Kirtland AFB personnel. “The whole idea when we first started was job creation,” said Yearout. “To provide a space, a location that provided collaboration for small satellites, basically.”
Plans for the new space called ‘Max Q,’ include at least six new office buildings, a hotel, retail shop space, and restaurants. It’s something Yearout likened to Albuquerque’s Uptown off Louisiana.
While New Mexico’s economy and hospitality industry especially suffers amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Yearout is confident the space will bring more high-paying jobs to Albuquerque. He points to its built-in customer base at Kirtland, which is already an economic driver for the state.
“First of all, the challenges are real and huge for us all,” said Yearout. “But if you look at what’s going on within the defense industry, with regard to space, and directed energy – they are huge growth opportunities in the defense industry, and Kirtland Air Force Base is at the center of all of that activity.”
“These are not dying technical jobs, these are jobs that are growing,” Yearout added. Construction on the Max Q development is set to begin early next year.
Yearout says breathing new life into the Gibson corridor is something to look forward to. “A walkable, industrial complex that has retail within walking distance of it,” explained Yearout. “A place where you could spend a little time at night and you know, have a beer and a burger, that type of thing.”
Yearout says they’re in active negotiations with three tenants so far, but lease agreements for those new retail and restaurant spaces aren’t finalized. Kirtland Air Force Base will be the landlord for the property, with pedestrian access for base staff and the public.