Sunday, February 25, 2007

A Sagging Core?

Once again, our local print media has published an article proclaiming downtown to be in a state of decline. First, Berger Briggs reported they are moving their main office to North I-25 a couple weeks ago. Now, Ruby Shoesday owner Jackie Gonzales states she is moving her boutique shop to the uptown area. Oh, and the Petroleum Club closed as well. Although I wasn't even aware they were still open anyhow. Apparently, this is the sign of the rapture for our Central Business District.

This article comes from a newspaper that is in the middle of the action at 1st and Central. Let's compile a small list of activity within a quarter-mile of their offices:

1) Arena & Hotel ($350m) - right across the street
2) BelVedere - ($13m?-ish) - 54 residential units plus retail three blocks west
3) Silver Lofts phase II - 27 residential units seven blocks west
4) Anasazi Downtown - 45 lofts w/ retail
5) old Greyhound site - 100+ lofts plus retail
6) Gertrude's castle
7) WESST CORP downtown incubator on Broadway south of Lomas
8) Impending renovation of La Posada

These large developments are in addition to Mass Mutual, Lockheed Martin and Sento Corporation's decisions to open offices downtown within the last year. Not to mention the opening of the first retail establishment to open up in the Gold Avenue Lofts - Vitality Juice Java & Smoothie Bar. I'm no Alan Greenspan (although his genius can be argued with the coming impacts of his policies) but downtown is still on the move and not really going south. The exodus of one retail shop and addition of another is just business as usual. I can understand the Journal writing this type of garbage seeing as their property is the beneficiary of any increases in land prices around "Journal Center." Me thinks the Business Weekly needed to keep employees busy last week.
Edit (Monday, 2-26-07, 2:51 PM): See Don Pizzolato's article over at Duke City Fix. This is why newspaper articles are so damaging when writers don't understand their subject. I usually like Don's posts because they are intelligent, but this time he's jumped on the bandwagon. Some of the commenters have great constructive criticism, however.


John said...

I was just thinking about downtown today. Being one who doesn't go to nightclubs, I feel the only practical reasons I would go to downtown is the library and the government buildings.

We need some stores there. It would be awesome if some of the stuff in ABQ Uptown could come down to downtown, like a Borders right smack dab on Central. And then a great grocery store (like Trader Joe's or Whole Foods) somewhere in the area.

In fact, I feel like contacting Trader Joe's and telling them about the potential the downtown area holds. Trader Joe's is so popular they might already be looking at a new location in Albuquerque...

Tim said...


Actually, it was HDIC who originally convinced Trader Joe's to take a look at ABQ. Of course they pushed for downtown but TJ's went for the northeast heights instead. Rumor has it they are still looking in the area, however. With the arrival of Sunflower Market at Lomas & San Mateo, hopefully it pushes TJ's further west and we get what everyone wants...TJ's downtown.

Phil said...

I had dinner downtown tonight...we ate in a crowded NYPD, then walked down a bustling Central past several busy bars to an equally busy Lindy's, which is now hanging its walls with photos of all the celebs who come in. Tucano's, the movie theater, Cold Stone, Thai Crystal, Carom Club...nearly every open establishment we walked by thatwas open and doing good business.

Keep in mind this was a SUNDAY NIGHT. I've lived in a few "sagging" downtowns (Tucson, Eugene, OR, etc.) and ABQ is nothing of the sort, especially for those of us who remember downtown Albuquerque as it was 10 or even 5 years ago. I don't know what explains the sudden pessismism, but it's oddly misplaced...there are a lot more projects in the pipeline and it'll take a lot more than the demise of an overpriced niche-market shoe store to derail them.