Thursday, August 23, 2007

Uptown Girl

What we were promised. (above)

Alright, as if I felt that ABQ Uptown was not living up to its hype before, have you seen the La Bella Spa that is opening? This two story structure faces THE PARKING LOT. Streetside along Indian School is a wall and a couple of doors.

Who's the architect on this projoect? That's right, it's supposedly this state's leader in design. I won't drop any names but we all know who they are as their name is posted on every corner that a major project is occuring.

This is a sign that things aren't right. However, hopefully ABQ Uptown will be reason enough for people to ask for better design with all of downtown's upcoming projects. Since no one will ever actually get that urban feeling in uptown, downtown through Nob Hill along Central Ave. will easily become the people's favorite.

Speaking of good design, did you see this? Cities like Vancouver and Portland did not happen because the city let developers run amok, instead you get Houston. Hell, ABQ Uptown is what happens when you trust a developer, sadly. It's not even mixed use! It's segregated! But I digress....


Mario said...

I couldn't agree more on the ABQ Uptown development, not only is not a mixed-used center, I would hestitate calling it a Lifestyle Center. They really pulled a fast one on us! They might as well call it the Women's Mall (like the Women's Hospital on Montgomery) since there are only two CRAPPY men's stores on site! I'm so disappointed with the whole thing. And yes shame on D/P/S

Mario said...

And what happened to the entertainment aspect promised? I thought originally it was to include a movie theater and a Dave & Busters. We always get the short end of the stick!

Anonymous said...

ohh damn! a Dave & Busters??? That would have been SWEET! Still hope out there lets cross our fingers!

ABQist said...

The whole ABQUT is a disaster IMO. The retail is not what we hoped for, mixed-use would be a lie, and what's due to come will likely disappoint as well. The 7-8 story condos are now going to be 2-3 story apartments and instead of a high-rise hotel, we'll be lucky to get six stories. Nothing connected and density is a joke. Hunt, get out of ABQ before you mess up the whole town. Now for the bad news: Hunt is involved on the arena/hotel project. :(

Anonymous said...

i believe the documentation for EPC approvals of ABQUptown was a hood-winking scam.
Remember there was a "phase" line between the ground floor retail and housing above on the elevations. The EPC approvals had a two-year implementation time limit. If they didn't complete phase I in two years, they'd have to go back for re-approval. The flip side is that the requirements also expired in two years, so if phase II hadn't begun construction, there was no requirement to build it at all.

I know there were some discussions within the architectural firm about the the ethical position of 'phasing' and indicating as such to the public. There were even some heated discussions with Hunt about the reality of 'phasing' and whether they were being truthful with the office and the city.

bella is really the nail in the coffin for that place having any pretense whatsoever of thoughtful urbanism.

Mario said...

And in today's ABQ Journal Hunt was awarded a $250M plus contract for a 98-acre tract on Kirtland AFB, that is SUPPOSED to be a mixed-used project. HMMMMMMMM did we not learn from the first mistake??? Hunt will scale back on this project too. Why don't we find some real developers who have been successful creating mixed-use centers.

mario said...

Scratch that, they were awarded a $390M contract for the work at Kirtland. Sad, very sad. I contacted them this afternoon by email to ask why they did not deliver what was promised, I'll keep you posted if they reply.

Philly said...

Oh, I totally agree!
It was a "Bait, and Switch!"

I still have the newspaper clipping on the rendering of ABQ Uptown, and it is nothing like what we see today.

It's funny you post this, because this last week I went with my GF for a stroll through the project. It is a joke. There was nobody there, although I did see Kevin Cosnter there (seriously he was there with his family).

I'll put money that tenants leave after there lease is up, and wil become a ghost town with a radio shack, panda express, and other low end retail.

It's a damn shame! It would have been an alternative to DT with a safer feel.

ABQist said...

Wow philly, you think so? You think it will become a ghost town like winrock? That's a scary thought. When will people wake up? Everything get scaled back, switched, downsized, delayed, cut corners and cut costs and then it flops on its big fat face. ABQ could learn a lot from the SF Bay Area where they do things in a big way and do it right. Not only does it fly, but spurs more dev and more progress. When in the world....

Anonymous said...

At the time ABQUptown was being designed, it was a race between them and The Avenue (PruWinrock's lifestyle/street mall replacing Winrock) in order to get the tenants.

Now that ABQUptown has shown their cards (at best a pair of threes), it seems as though Winrock could really pull-off a superior design and tenant mix without much difficulty - and they have that dedicated I-40 onramp too....

mario said...

Winrock was sold to local developer Gary Goodman, and he has not decided on what to do with the property. My guess is this........he will need to partner with Grubb Ellis, Sedberry & Associates, Sperry Van Ness, or one of the other commercial real estate brokers to recruit new retailers. None of the above have had too much success in bringing new and exciting retail stores. Sedberry is responsible for ABQ Uptown and they have struggled mightily to get them here. The sad part is those stores (especially Bebe, Potterybarn, Coldwater Creek, and a few others) have been highly successful here), yet retailers are still very much hesitant about the ABQ market (especially high-end retail). For whatever reason ABQ can not shake the poor image we have nationally. As for Goodman, the chance of him getting quality retailers will be much harder than the original owners. The original owners have built high-end centers before and already had a great rapport with those type of retailers. I'm guessing we will be in for another disappointment.

What's worse is GGP who owns Coronado submitted plans for an extensive remodel and redevelopment. GGP is huge REIT and would have brought some exciting retailers and entertainment venues to our city but was turned down because of Winrock and ABQ Uptown. Now I hear they want to sale Coronado because of the unfair treatment they received. This is terribly saddening because they have the capital to do great things there. It was to include a multi-level parking garage, and expansion/renovation into a more mixed-use on the east-side of the mall, which is in dire need of TLC.

This is the kind of crap that holds us back. Shady dealings behind the scenes which scares away big money from the outside that could do wonderful things to urbanize ABQ.

Anonymous said...

i wasn't aware of the sale to goodman - when did that occur?

GGP was playing fast and loose with the city's housing requirement in the uptown sector plan. i got the feeling they couldn't care less at the time being in chicago and having their fingers in so many pies. coronado is a piece of crap but it is leased and i'm sure the same sentiment about albuquerque you posted above is probably in play here too by GGP.

sorry to use 'anonymous' to post but i have to....

mario said...

Goodman paid $4M in an auction 3 or 4 months ago. He is quite the busy man, I hope he can come through. As for GGP, I've seen their redevelopments around the country and I believe it would have been top notch. Just because they are in Chicago doesn't mean they can't do something right here. Now if they could get Simon to bring Cottonwood up to par that would be nice too.

Anonymous said...

just 4 million for the whole of winrock (except dillards - i believe they own their store)???

that seems so unbelievably cheap....

Anonymous said...

Uptown pretty much sucks. It's nothing but a glorified strip mall.

The only reason I ever go over there is the Apple store.

Anonymous said...

not really true; there's more going on than a strip mall if you look closely at the experience and space.

thanks for playing though!

mario said...

Okay it's like 4 seperate strip malls. It is not a urban or even pedestrian friendly as originally billed. There is no entertainment to speak of and there certainly is no housing. So it is definitely not a mixed-use (throwing Fidelity in there doesn't change anything) center, just a glorified set of strip malls.

Anonymous said...

guess it depends on what you cal a strip mall - typically it involves a single or double-loaded parking area between the street and storefront - so by definition is places primacy on the car over the pedestrian.

Qup (maybe that moniker will stick?) has traditional downtoan diagonal on-street parking which encourages pedestrian activity. the single lane roundabout paved with traditional pedestrian accent paving actually places the pedestrian in a position of primacy.

you can (and i do) dislike it for any number of reasons, but calling it a strip mall is kinda lazy.

ABQist said...

Bottom line is not delivered as promised. Phase 1 should've been mixed use, more ped friendly, phase will not be 7-5 story condos but a segregated 2-3 story apartment complex, and phase 3 which was supposed to be an integrated hotel/office/retail mixed use will undoubtedly not deliver as well. Hunt should be banned from future projects in ABQ.

Anonymous said...

perhaps instead of banning, they should be required to spend a minimum $/sf and construct a minimum of sf...

ABQist said...

Ok anonymous, how about just requiring them to build out the last two phases according to orig specs and integrate phase 1 into the mix better. Sounds good on paper but they will never comply.

Tim said...

I agree with ABQist, we don't have to do business with these companies that do business like they did with ABQut. But if we do in the future, we need to hold their feet to the fire to deliver what they promise and what is approved.

Regarding General Growth Properties, I'm sickened by the politics and dirty antics of PruWinrock and Hunt to keep GGP from renovating Coronado. They essentially cried wolf by saying thta GGP wasn't meeting the sector plan requirements all while developing ABQ Uptown which was NOT what the city approved. Rediculous.

Anonymous said...

why do you say that ABQUptown isn't what the city approved?

Tim said...

Anonymous: well, I guess I meant what the people thought was approved. This project surely wouldn't have received public approval if we'd known it would look like this.

Anonymous said...

bhckatMario said...

"And what happened to the entertainment aspect promised? I thought originally it was to include a movie theater and a Dave & Busters. We always get the short end of the stick!"

I'm a real estate agent in ABQ and I myself have
been wanting a Dave and Buster's since I
visited the main one in Dallas in 2004.
I contacted them in 2004 and again in 2007;
they do not have any plans for the
immediate future to place one in ABQ; they
are still working out the details of placing
shops in Boston and San Francisco.

The trend for a Dave and Buster's is to
place a location in a metro area of 1 million
or more-Dallas, Denver, Ft.Lauderdale/Hollywood/
Broward County, Miami and San Diego. The
only noticeable execption I could find on
the company's website is Omaha. I believe
this is probably due to the city's USA Today Number 8 ranking for 50 largest cities for
per capita billionaires (Warren Buffet ring a bell)
and for Fortune 500 companies. Plus, Omaha
is a traditional college town-Creighton,
Bellevue and University of Nebraska-Omaha.
It does not hurt that the city is also called
Gateway to the West and can draw on neighboring
Iowa for a customer base.

Also, Dave and Buster's shops tend to be situated
in large, freestanding buildings, not divided or
partitioned malls or centers. They most likely
want maximum parking utility and people who
park their cars on their lots are expected to
actually go inside and spend some money, not
walk around and act like a tourist.

My position on ABQ Uptown is similar to Mario's.
There really is not an overwhelming value
proposition. The Elephant Bar is not that
different from Chili's, Applebee's or TGI
Friday's. Bravo! is basically another Chain
restaurant a la Macaroni Grill, Carabba's
and Olive Garden (I'm actually very partisan
towards Mimmo's on the West side, owned by
a gentleman from Puglia, Italy; located in
the heel of Italy's boot. I also dig Mario's
in Uptown; original owner from New York by
way of Sicily).

Maybe if the project could have attracted
a Pizzeria Uno Chicago style pizza outlet
or Neiman Marcus, it may have had some
kick. I base this on what already is in
the immediate vicinity:


Chili's: Menaul/Louisiana
Bennigan's: Louisian/Americas Parkway
TGI Friday's: Winrock Mall North Parking area
Mario's Italian Ristorante: San Pedro/Uptown
Steak and Ale: Louisiana/Americas Parkway
Romano's Macaroni Grill: Louisiana/I-40/Winrock
Garduno's: Winrock North Parking area
Fudrucker's: Coronado Center East End

Jewelry Shops:

Zale's: Coronado
Kay Jewelers: Coronado

As for a movie theatre, the Winrock Theatre
is still doing fairly well; do not know if
ABQ Uptown could give them any real
run for the money.

If they intend to build residential condo's or
apartments, where will the residents buy
groceries? The closest grocery store in near future
will be Wal-Mart Supercenter at Wyoming Mall.
Outside of that, closest supermarket is Alberton's
at Candelaria and Eubank or Smith's at Constitution and Carlisle.

Outside of Jared's. the Elephant Bar and
JAS Bank, were there any establishments
placed that did not already exist in
Albuquerque? The Alltel store is an express
store where they charge an extra $2.00
cash charge due to a difference in
processing from the other stores (I'm
a customer. I know this as a fact). Borders
simply changed locations from Winrock yet
Coronado has a Barnes and Noble bookstore.

Under the economic theory of substitution, my
question is, what can I get at ABQ Uptown that
I cannot get elsewhere? What do they offer
that cannot be substituted by something
similar in quality, design and price at
Coronado or some of the smaller shopping
outlets along Menaul? I can go to the Alltel
at Menaul, West of San Pedro to pay my bill
or buy new toys. I can substitute any
of the eateries I named above for the ones
in Uptown.

I think that if the city had not screwed Albuquerque Commons Partnership, the
group that had the plans to develop the
same area in the 1990s when the land was
still owned by the Archdiocese of Santa
Fe, the end result probably would have
been closer to what people expected.

BTW, I did some research on Hunt. It did not
say whether or not the ownership group is
related to the late Haroldson Lafayette (HL)
Hunt, Texas oil tycoon; son Lamar Hunt founded
American Football League and owned
Kansas City Chiefs from 1959 until his
death in 2006; just curious.

Some day, Albuquerque will get it right.