Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Richmond St. Studios, RailRunner, Mesa del Sol, and the Fairgrounds


I created this blog to express my thoughts about upcoming and existing developments around the Duke City but have drawn a blank since its inception. Many good developments have come about in the last two weeks as well. Infill Solutions is finally moving ahead with their Richmond Street Studios behind the Wells Fargo bank in Nob Hill, the state has purchased every mile of rail between Belen to the Colorado state line, Mesa del Sol is causing a stir and there is discussion on what to do with the State Fairgrounds.

Nob Hill now lays claim to 54 new urban dwellings. Not so bad for a neighborhood that had not seen residential development of which to speak of in a couple decades. Unfortunately, the average price of those units is upward of $250-300 thousand dollars. The strength of sales, however, prove the strength of that market. On a side note, ABQ High lofts website shows a total of 26 units which are already spoken for. If I remember correctly, that signals the beginning of construction to come shortly with 52 total units available. What Rob Dickson (the developer of ABQ High) has done for this city is tremendous. The project was listed as a top ten project in the Sierra Club's "Building Better: A Guide to America's Best New Development Projects."

I am unsure that people realize the impact that such projects as Rail Runner commuter rail and Mesa del Sol are going to have on the future of our city. To implement commuter rail into a city of our size is quite a tremendous and progressive feat in this country. And Mesa del Sol will most likely draw more attention even Denver's Stapleton airport redevelopment due to it's sheer size and it's terrific location near downtown and the airport. A study was recently released that claims that Sandia Labs landfill has very little chance of impacting the environment negatively. This comes at a perfect time when the city and state are building and planning roads into the area. Everyone will be looking to see how these projects develop as we have the opportunity to set the example for mid-size cities across the country.

News came out about discussions dealing with the future of the Fairgrounds. Over on the DukeCityFix, people are discussing what should be done. The overwhelming majority on that website think that they should keep the grounds where they are and upgrade the facilities. Now, I've been there many of times growing up including my junior prom and I can't think of any reason to keep any one of those buildings. I like the concept of the main streeet. I like the idea of having such a facility to bring everyone together for a grand 'ol yeehaw annually. But I can't help think that this location would serve a much better purpose being redeveloped and continuing what our city has set forth in developing great streets. The big walls and gate that guard the fairgrounds have a negative effect on the surrounding area by encouraging people to drive right by it. There is no incentive to slow down and get out of the car. I think the area would serve a much better purpose by being opened up and developing into a mixed-use area with offices, residential of all kinds, and in keeping with the community gathering space, purhaps a large regional park. The only reason to keep the fairgrounds in its current location is purely nostalgic. Hopefully our leaders and community make the right decision with this one.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

An update, finally! haha just kidding, nice update, I still don't know how you are not a columnist in a paper or even on dukecityfix. It's strange, and engineer who can write, haha.
-Diboobie

johnny_mango said...

Well, I think we should move the fair. And if a mixed use development is in the works for that site, I can see leaving many of the fairgrounds structures to be used for other purposes. It would be kind of kitchy...and of historical interest.

You are right in saying that the walls around the fairgrounds have a negative impact. Also, that acreage has not one house or dwelling. This is true of other areas along east Central as well. And those "vacant" spaces are real hurdles in building a neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

The main problem is that with Mayor Moneybags and others of his ilk wielding so much power with development, you can rest assured that new development at the Fairgrounds would serve only the most heinous development carried out by the most heinous developers in town.

H. John Hardy said...

I agree with your hopes for the RailRunner and the future of Albuquerque (and Belen, Los Lunas, Bernalillo - along with Isleta and Sandia Pueblos). But you should give the Fair more credit. According to news reports, the land is only worth $35M today - discounted for all the work that would need to be done to make it into building lots for another 1/3-square mile of the same-old NE Heights. Someone suggested it could be a gated community because no one would want to move in next to La Mesa and Trumbull and pay $250K for a new house. The Fair says that it will cost at least $300M to move. Where's the money for that?

Howard Taylor said...

Whenever there is a lot of empty space big box stors show up.

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