The city is eyeing one of the oldest parts of Albuquerque for a special new designation that could help fix it up and bring new businesses to the area.
The city’s drafted a proposal outlining certain stretches of Central and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd between Broadway and I-25 as “Metropolitan Redevelopment Area.”
The designation could help the city kick start the redevelopment of the area, which has already seen a series of successful businesses.
East Downtown, or EDo, is already home to the popular Hotel Parq Central and several restaurants like the Artichoke Café, the Grove, the Standard Diner, Farina Pizzeria, Holy Cow, and the Whole Hog BBQ Café. However, the city believes there’s more “potential” for the region, which links downtown with the Highlands, University and Nob Hill regions.
“There are a lot of success stories in that area, like we talked about, but there’s also the opportunity for many more,” said Matthew Butkus, the development coordinator for the city of Albuquerque’s Metropolitan Redevelopment Agency.
Butkus is among those now working on the proposed “East Downtown Metropolitan Redevelopment Area” project. City staff recently published a draft report, outlining the proposed MRA. “Ultimately the goal is to make (EDo) more vibrant, more attractive,” said Butkus.
The proposed MRA covers dozens of properties in the EDo area, mainly in the East Downtown, south Martineztown and Huning Highlands neighborhoods. “There’s a lot of abandoned buildings, there’s a lot of vacant lots that are either dirt lots or surface level parking lots, that are not the highest and best use of those properties could be,” said Butkus.
An MRA designation for EDo could help the city get funds for fixing up streets and sidewalks. “We’re looking at crossings across Central and across Broadway to make it a little more walkable and a little more friendly for business activity and the residents and the visitors in the area,” said Butkus.
More significantly, an MRA designation could see the city using funding or other resources like property tax breaks to help incentivize private landowners to build or fix their idle or empty lots and buildings. “I’d love to have more people in the area, in general,” said Belita Clover, commenting on the East Downtown area as a whole Tuesday.
Clover has owned and operated the Octopus and the Fox boutique along Central for about the last eight years. While Clover says she hasn’t decided whether or not she’d support the city’s MRA proposal, she feels EDo could use more activity. “I feel like there’s a lot of people kind of coming and going, but there aren’t very many retail businesses,” said Clover.
With a little help, the city thinks EDo could be one of the city’s next hot spots. “It just has a ton of potential with Central Avenue and the old Route 66 to be a vibrant, walkable, great neighborhood in Albuquerque,” said Butkus.
The city has already held a couple of discussions with neighborhood stakeholders on the proposed MRA, but says it’s still taking neighborhood feedback.
The city is planning to hold another public meeting on the EDo MRA draft plan on Tuesday, May 7 at the Plaza del Sol building on Second Street in downtown Albuquerque. The meeting is expected to begin at 5:30 p.m. in the basement conference room.