Wednesday, August 30, 2006

More UNM

I seem to keep returning to the subject, but can someone please tell me why our "flagship" university needs multiple campuses in a metro area with less than 1 million people? A quick drive by the main campus will make apparent to anyone the need for rehabilitation and opportunities for expansion. Why do they need to create two more campuses in which to spread resources that are limited already.

A year ago, the Boston Globe published an article comparing the cities of Worcester, MA and Providence, RI. Both cities are of similar size and have similar make-ups. The one noted, major difference being Providence is the largest city in its respective state whereas Worchester is in Boston's shadow. However, the writer covered an angle that I think perfectly reflects what our city is doing incorrectly, and that is how the universities played a role that directly affected themselves and their hometowns. Brown and Johnson & Whales located facilities and student housing in the heart of Providences' downtown. The city and university worked together with a unified goal, resulting in a vibrant core with a vibe that has attracted investment from the corporate world to invest in their own buildings as well as improving public spaces. The world now looks at Providence as a success story, attracting technology companies, artists, young and old alike. Worcester, until very recently was still tying go get out of first gear. Their officials had poor communication and companies were moving out of downtown to the suburbs. Sound familiar?



Finally, with a change in officials combined with a change in attitude, Worcester finally worked together with the university to build an extension downtown. In turn, new proposals have come out of the private sector including one, alone, that is worth $500 million. That is the combined amount the city of Albuquerque has seen since 1998.

This is only one example of where working together has been the catalyst for major change. I don't understand how we can see these examples everywhere and still let it happen to ourselves. When we look to other cities as our friends and children move away for "more exciting" places with greater opportunities, we have only ourselves to blame.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Coming Up Roses

I know, a cheesy title, but I can't help but feel quite optimistic and almost giddy about the prospects of this city at this time. Today, the Journal published an article about Rose Company's plan for the former Greyhound site and a bordering 1-1/2 acres. They're premlinary ideas are for office, retail, structured parking and 250 residential units all combined in about 200,000 square feet of ground level real estate. I'm no professional but that translates into descent density on a scale that any city would be happy to see inserted into the heart of their CBD. The property is located across the street from the newly constructed interstate coach station on 1st and Silver.

The nearly completed station.

Hopefully, the view will, at minimum, be as vibrant as our example to the north in Denver.

I can't say that I don't like the direction our city is taking, but a look around the country proves that more can be done in the way of strenthening and accelerating such development in positive ways. In the Duke City, all development is being moved along by the private sector while our mayor and city council do their best to balance the needs of the entire city. That sounds positive and obvious, but in a time when petroleum is at a premium and cities are understanding the importance of attracting young, professional, educated co-eds and their families to exciting, mixed-use neighborhoods, our city is seemingly either narrow minded or overworked. In Austin, the public and private sectors have set out to meet goals. Goals of employment, residential units AND transit. They have been so successful in recent times that they are now looking beyond the next couple of years to determine where future density will occur when their last remaining parking lots are filled. A quick look around downtown Albuquerque reveals a similar situation. While our pace of development is not as rapid, any acceleration in our development could potentially result in our city looking toward the future, which it would seem would be an obvious subject of conversation somewhere around city hall. Perhaps we're waiting for the public sector to point us in the right direction and do things for us as they have on our city's westside?

A plot of land just waiting for that dreamed arena.

Monday, August 07, 2006


I just wanted to share a few photos from my excursion on one of the best public projects to happen to our region in recent times.
So far the news is all good regarding the commuter line. Last week the Journal had an article that mentioned the train was handling an average of 4,500 people per day so far. Assuming those numbers are inflated by the newness factor and people riding it for fun, it may still be safe to say that 3,500 people are commuters. That would equates to about 70,000 riders per month on just the stretch from Bernalillo to Albuquerque. It is anticipated that the southern end from Belen will be equally as popular. To say 140,000 per month will ride this train is a tremendous feat, if realized. The potential economic development opportunities from this could be quite tremendous. From Transit Oriented Development around each of the 7 stations (not including the two stations on the reservations due to unknowns), including downtown, to people saving money from not being stuck in traffic, the economic benefits will quickly outway the economic burden of keeping the system up and running. Sure, in ten years, the state may pay $100 million dollars in operation and maintenance, but in ten years we'll likely see 1 Billion dollars in development around the stations because of the investment. That alone is over a 2:1 ratio and is a conservative figure when compared to what other cities are seeing. That figure doesn't even include the payrolls for jobs that will likely be created and attracted to the area in the decade.

I took two more pictures on my excursion that day that really show some of the progress we've seen in the last five years. My how far we've come.