New zoning allows retail, housing development on closing Kmart site

As Kmart plans to close its longtime Albuquerque store along I-40, some are already looking forward to “what’s next” for the enormous chunk of prime property.

Kmart announced Thursday it would close the I-40 and Carlisle store this summer.

Recent changes to the city’s zoning code now mean something totally different could end up on the site in the future. 

An urban planning advocate in Albuquerque, Dan Majewski recently noted the zoning change in an online conversation. 

“What would you like to see in that location?” asked Majewski on Twitter. “Zoning of property, according to new CABQ zoning code is MX-L = mixed use, low intensity. This means a mix of housing commercial and/or retail could be built on the property.” 

Speaking to KRQE News 13 Friday, Majewski says the retail store’s closure also reflects a continued change in land use surrounding retail.  

“Maybe we can do different things with these properties,” said Majewski. 

The 10-acre plot at the corner of Carlisle and I-40 is home to just the Kmart retail center and a Burger King. Much of the lot is covered in asphalt for parking. 

“It’s a really rare opportunity for creating something really amazing in Albuquerque,” said Majewski. 

While Kmart has only said it intends to shutter the Albuquerque store by early September, Majewski says he wants people to think about what a future use of the property could bring. 

“It’s an opportunity to say well, maybe we should do a mix of residential and commercial and retail,” said Majewski. 

That potential mixture of development is a possibility because of the city’s recently revamping zoning code, known as the “Integrated Development Ordinance” (IDO). The IDO changed zoning in many places in the city, allowing for new types of development that have never existed at sites in the past. 

“It was really answering market demands and again, live work play, that is kind of where things are going, that’s what people want,” said Carmelina Hart, a spokeswoman for the City of Albuquerque’s planning department. 

The planning department says zoning changes at the Carlisle and I-40 Kmart site now allows future developers for the first time to build “mixed-use” development, like retail and housing. 

“It will now not only just be commercial, be mixed use,” said Hart. 

The last time Kmart closed one of its stores in Albuquerque at Central and Atrisco, the land was sold to a developer who rehabbed the property into a new retail complex with room for four tenants. 

Majewski thinks I-40 and Carlisle could be far different. 

“We’ve seen really interesting things happen right on the other side of the highway with the Green Jeans development,” said Majewski. “And just think of what you could do with that much more space right on the other side of the highway.” 

The property owner has yet to announce any plans for the future of the Kmart lot. Any future developments would have to go through the regular city approval process. 

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