Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Holidays

Here's wishing everyone a wonderful holiday season.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

MR COG and Urban Transit-Oriented Villages

This is tentatively planned for the often touted Airport Station. It will be incredible to see the changes take place in this area over the next decade with Mesa del Sol and this urban village.

I am sitting in Seattle at the moment pondering the eventual growth of my beloved Albuquerque as it relates to Seattle. One word: DENSITY.

This city is littered with neighborhood retail in the city proper. Practically 100% void of any strip retail that our city "thrives" on for tax revenue. Seattle citizens have largely voted against the type of development that plagues our city, choosing, instead, a socially progressive, environmentally friendly, aesthetically pleasing urban form. It is up to us, as citizens, to get involved and become educated on how our built environment effects our lives. The baby boomers are luke warm to mixed-use urbanity, Gen X'ers are catching on, and millenials will know little else from the dense urban form. It is what today's younger generation is drawn toward.

Ultimately, the market will dictate and we'll be left with predominantly sprawling suburbs as exists today barring some massive economic boom (and skyrocketing gas prices) that seems to be elusive to our city. However, our future is in dense villages and multifamily units along transit routes. It may not be today or tomorrow but it will come. We can be proactive or reactive. The reactive approach is what got us into this mess. You choose.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

MLS in the 505

Photo courtesy of Flickr user: swilsonmc

The governor has changed his tune and gone back to Expo NM with plans for an equestrian facility. Great. Now what about the remaining 200+ acres of highly unused land? As I have posted previously, I do not believe it to be in our best interest to continue with the fair as it currently exists. Between the Downs relocating to Moriarty and Tingley Colisseum becoming irrelevant, nearly half of Expo NM land will remain unused.

From above, it is glaringly apparent that a majority of the unused space lies along Central Ave. and Luisianna Blvd. Would this area not be best used by complimenting the city's efforts to strengthen the international district and redevelop Central Ave.? In addition, this could create a district of transit-oriented development that would likely compliment a rail line to connect downtown and uptown. I'm talking dense, walkable development with offices, residential and even some industrial space. This could reasonably be done while still maintaining the existence of the fairgrounds, if so desired. The lost parking spaces could be replaced with above and below-grade, multi-level garages.

Additionally, the main point of this post is to address the need (ok, want) for Major League Soccer. Imagine a regional park with soccer and baseball fields as well as an MLS stadium. This could be New Mexico's only chance to obtain a major league sport and soccer happy Albuquerquean's are likely to support such a team. I stumbled upon an article that lists the Duke City as a potential candidate for an expansion team. Granted, the article discusses expansion of a USL-1 franchise but I bet an argument could be made for an MLS team. And while the governor is attempting to solicit ideas for Expo New Mexico, now would be the perfect time to move ahead with efforts to secure a team. The article states, "A short list of markets from which we believe a USL-1 franchise could be successful with the proper ownership and venue include, but are not limited to (in no specific order): Omaha (NE), Tulsa (OK), San Antonio (TX), Tampa (FL), Phoenix (AZ), Boise (ID), Oklahoma City (OK), Albuquerque (NM), Memphis (TN), and Birmingham (AL) We are currently in advanced discussions with interested parties in several of these markets."

The stadium would be a sizeable catalyst for redevelopment to the area as it would attract approximately 15,000 fans (league average) to the stadium for 15-20 events, annually.

We have so, so, so much potential if we could just realize it. Where are the leaders, such as Mayor Tingley, with the vision?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

What's Not To Love About This?

I am sold. Transit oriented entertainment. What other city has the opportunity to do this? After reading the report explaining the reason for a 10,000 seat arena, I've decided I would be fine with a 12,000 seat venue...with expansion capabilities of course. The arena architecture is a little weak. I also think retail and taller residential is needed on Broadway. Kudos, design team!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Transit Oriented ABQ

The Rio Grande Foundation (NM's version of the CATO Institute) has been given significant opportunity by the local press to bestow their "research" and "wisdom" upon the citizens of our state and region. Their libertarian slant and anti-taxation preaching, however, adversely clouds their judgement. Americans, in general, are highly likely to rebel against high taxes. So when plans for mass transit and a publicly financed downtown arena were announced, it was no surprise that they immediately pushed back with their agenda.

Before the transit vote, Paul Gessing, the current President of the Rio Grande Foundation, was a guest on Eye on New Mexico to tell us what a waste of money it would be to approve such a tax. He even conjured up scenarios for which the project was ineffective. Naturally, he used a worst case scenario. But while his argument immediately sounded rational and pragmatic, it ultimately failed to recognize the full cause and effect of the project.

Quietly and void of the fanfare of the librul (ha) media, towns up and down the commuter rail line have implemented plans to create vibrant, walkable town centers and villages around their RailRunner stations. These areas will eventually house tens of thousands of citizens whom will have the option to move about the metro area by public transit. This seems like such a foreign idea today but it will become the norm in decades to come.

Missing from the argument about this tax was the discussion of future generations ability to live sustainably and with transit options. It is about changing our lifestyles to reflect a rapidly changing urban reality. This tax was every bit about how our city will balance fringe growth with infill. The mayor and MRCOG need to stress this idea to get everyone on the same page because the current, [do it because it's good for us] argument is a tougher sell.

I'm proud of the citizens of the middle Rio Grande region for supporting this tax as it will further improve our transit systems. It will be interesting to see how this arena project will unfold. Will the city be able to sell the voters on the project or will Paul Gessing's misleading research combined with the city's marketing inabilities be enough to keep the project grounded, yet again?

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Yes We Can

An historic day I will never forget. Just 77 days till change.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Originally uploaded by ABQturkey
It's disheartening to hear citizens say they don't support a tax that subsidizes an expensive "thing" they don't use. I am at wit's end trying to explain to them how roads are not the solution and how they are subsidized by everyone. US citizens have been trained to think that mass transportation is only "for poor people."

In reality, this project might be the most progressive "thing" our humble state has done in ages. In cities all around the country, they are studying how we were able to produce such a potentially catalytic, infrastructure project for such a terrific price. In New Mexico, we still think hundreds of millions of dollars is a lot of money. Not that it isn't, however, metro areas across the country are investing in major public projects such as commuter rail and light rail for dollar figures that make ours look like a toy train.

This isn't about any one individuals route to work or Wal-Mart (don't get me started on Wal-Mart). It is about modifying our growth patterns. It's about options. We wince at the thought of a $10 million budget to fund a major mass transit artery, yet we cheer on interstate interchanges that cost $90 million (Coors & I-40), $300 million (big I), and soon, $250 million + (Paseo & I-25).

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Arena Renderings Galore

Thanks to Sarah Dolk's Duke City Fix blog, we have what we have all been waiting to see. This is an arena and site plan I can get on board with! A beautiful hotel tower (looks to be near 30 stories) and plentiful public space with a water feature and outdoor public seating.

A rather hard-to-envision rendering of public space on the west side of the train tracks with the arena in the background.

Here, they show a parking garage built behind condos along Broadway Blvd. This is the only viable solution, I believe, as it provides the necessary parking along with residential development as a buffer to the East Downtown nabe. The only problem I see is a rendering with 3-story tall condos and zero retail space lining Broadway. Weak.

Finally, the arena is shown with un upper level, but still with only 12,000 seats. Overall, I think this is a terrific plan given the tight space in the area. The hotel tower might be one of the most attractive hotel towers I have seen in most cities doing similar projects. It looks very similar to the W Hotel here in Dallas. Could we be getting a W? The frequently asked questions section does reveal that everything is still being studied and things can change, including arena size. And with that statement, I am satisfied for now.

Nationwide Arena

Nationwide Arena
Originally uploaded by DRust
A terrific example of arena related development, successfully executed by a public/private partnership. I'm quite certain the city needs to take a more proactive role in the actual goals of the plan in terms of layout and surrounding development. There is a need for public spaces in downtown Albuquerque and this project presents opportunities to create exciting urban spaces that can potentially be as iconic as the arena itself.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Rendering Good Times

Due to all this canceled/stalled building talk, UrbanABQ has decided to take a moment (or 5 hours) to dream a little. I used a couple of very recognizable buildings, can you name them? I also took the liberty of placing what I believe to be more appropriate building types at the old greyhound bus station site. Next, I contemplated what to do with the area around the Westin hotel but I couldn't find any rendered, low-rise buildings that would resemble urban retail so I left it alone. Peruse at will.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Say It Ain't So

Packard Place is officially dead, according to Blue Dot Corporation's, Garcia. I think it would be safe to say Chant Tower is permanently on hold as well at this time. I'm quite certain the only opportunity that this city has to see a high rise built is if the arena gets built.

Note to the city of Albuquerque: 12,000 seats is superbly insufficient. We're a larger market than Des Moines, Wichita, Tulsa, Grand Rapids and soon, Omaha. In a best case scenario, this glorified gym will take two years or so to be constructed. By then, the metro population will be pushing 900,000 and our trade area will be pushing 1,050,000 million when accounting for the Santa Fe market. Furthermore, these buildings have a lifespan of 25-40 years. By providing a 12,000 seat arena, it suggests we'll never be major league worthy? Apparently I'm not seeing something...

Arena porn:

Kansas City:


O! ...maha
In a future post, I'd like to discuss the Rio Grande Foundation's so called "think tank" and their leader, Paul Gessing. Does anyone have any information about "that one"? If it were up to him, we'd never build a thing as long as it was payed for with taxes. Perhaps we should privatize schools....

Monday, October 06, 2008

They're Invading!

It was bound to occur. Even the NIMBYs of Nob Hill couldn't fight the inevitable. Did anyone think Jason Daskalos and his team would aim for locally owned shops and provide them with affordable rent? (He has to pay those lawyer fees somehow!) Now if we can only get Apple to relocate and H&M to locate here. Nob Hill has arrived, folks. The NMBJ article.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Zia Station. Fail

I about peed my pants when I read about the scale of this project. $200 million and 620,000 sq. ft. on 28 acres. That's no ABQ Uptown in terms of cramming buildings into a land parcel, but after phases I and II, I thought this project might blow the Duke City project out of the water. A true transit oriented development and true mixed use! Could this finally be my urban village nirvana in northern NM?

Upon further research of the details, my ephemeral hopes were completely and utterly destroyed.

First off, the architect is none other than the same group that brought us sprawling ABQ Uptown. Don't get me wrong, I love the Apple store and Borders but I hate constantly dodging traffic while giddily racing to fondle the latest Mac gadget or purchase the latest Metropolis magazine. The entire design, while neat, was poorly executed and failed to deliver what was intended.

In similar fashion, the plan view appears to contain a thousand lines representing parking spaces that line every building. I'm not referring to parallel, on-street parking, either. See for yourself.1,600 parking spaces? Wow. Isn't the intent of transit oriented development to lend itself to a citizen's ability to use leg power for meeting one's basic needs? The scale of this development does not suggest there will be any major retail that might have a regional draw. Therefore, its only patrons will be the living/working population. Potentially, Santa Fe residents may park in one of the convenient parking options and ride the bird to the Duke City. But 1,600 parking spaces? Where's the incentive to not drive?

Lastly, the cost. How much for the residential units and what rates for the offices and retail? The NMBW states that office rents will be at the upper end of the Santa Fe market. It also states that apartment rentals will be around $1000. We're left to assume that retail rates will be high as well. It will be interesting to find out who's willing to shell out the dough for this site. I have no doubt this project will lease up rapidly, none the less. Retailers will want to be a part of this in an effort to suck money out of the employees of companies paying the high lease rates.

Ramble, ramble, ramble. It's another step in the right direction. I often place a lot of blame on DPS Architects for poor design but I know our archaic building codes are hell to work around (like placing 1,600 parking spaces in this site). Santa Fe is a cut above the rest when dealing with such issues. I like what it's attempting to do but I think it falls short in providing the Santa Fe area what it truly needs in the way of lower to middle class housing. I'm utterly envious Santa Fe is attracting this type of development ahead of the RailRunner's completion to the site, whereas Albuquerque is still awaiting a developer with the cojones and $ to do the same.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Now Taking Reservations

The Hotel Andaluz and its 107 well appointed rooms will be a nice addition to downtown. It will be fantastic to add additional sidewalk seating to the downtown scene. That such seating will be part of a seemingly classy restaurant is the icing on the cake. Goodman has done, well...good.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Density Commeth

Sean Gilligan (and architect, Traveston Elliot) does it again. He's provided terrifically priced, well designed urban homes in a high value area. These are the first renderings I have seen for this project and I have nothing but positive things to say. Let's hope the prices remain friendly unlike the 25% last minute increase seen in the originally 100% reserved, but hardly inhabited $200+/sq. ft. Roma Condos.

But (there's always a but), is this really the best location for this type of use - across from a regional transportation hub? Time will tell.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

More Foresight, Please

As of next week, I will have been away for a full year. Needless to say, I am not fully in tune with the wheelings and dealings of city hall these days. However, I'm fairly sure that very little attention is being paid to the (enter green movement catchphrase/word here) of the city of Albuquerque. Mayor Marty sells the "Q" as some sort of city ahead of its time and ahead of the curve when it comes to being a green city. But what exactly does that mean?

From the outside, we're nearly a million people inhabiting an arid region that cannot supply the necessary resources. We're a sprawling sun-belt city living in single family homes with rock lawns while enduring commutes that rival those of larger cities due to our failure to plan. The shortfalls of our environment to sustain us is well documented so I won't delve into that aspect in great detail.
To this day, Mayor Marty has exhalted his successes in [reducing our use]. We have, in large numbers I might ad, converted to low flow fixtures, made xeriscaping into an attractive trend, built an expensive gray water system for municipal park use, and created an initiative to build LEED-certified municipal buildings. As part of the bike-friendly-city, there is now a bike-sharing program that could even be considered a part of this "green" movement.

Every single one of these initiatives are not to be belittled to any extent as they sum up to more than a metaphorical band-aid on the situation. I'll be optimistic and categorize it as more of a large gauze strip. But clearly the sytem is still broken and requires much more maintenance to heal. With population growth annually between 1% and 3%, we're adding more consumption than we're making up for with such eco-friendly initiatives. I don't have any concrete numbers on this but it doesn't take rocket science to come to this conclusion.

Reviewing recent census data estimates, the city of Albuquerque is adding approximately half of the metro area's total population growth. That means that the other half is moving into the suburbs and exurbs surrounding ABQ. I haven't seen much in the way of infill as compared to the rows and rows of tract housing in Volcano Heights, the SW mesa, Rio Rancho, Placitas (with their minimum 1/4 acre lots), and Valencia County. Therefore, it is clear an overwhelming majority of this growth is migrating to the detached, single family homes that most of us dwell in. Additionally, our job growth is mostly occurring in areas such as Mesa del Sol and the north I-25 corridor. This compounds our travel difficulties by funneling everyone onto our three major arteries, I-25, I-40 and Paseo del Norte.

Periodically, articles are written concerning our increasingly time-consuming commutes, high gas prices, and thickening brown cloud. But year after year, citizens grumble about the issues and do nothing to amend the situation. Instead of demanding more necessary measures, we demand more roads. And instead of altering our neighborhoods to accommodate larger populations and a mix of uses, we demand our government to fix what we are individually guilty of creating.

The perfect recent examples of this are the Sheffield condos near UNM and the decade-long downtown revitalization effort. Central Avenue has historically and forever will remain our most dense corridor. In an effort to balance growth among infill and growth at the edge, neighborhoods will have to adapt and accept such necessary change. The corridor from UNM to downtown, in particular, must adapt. No longer should neighbors be able to cry solar rights when one lives in the center of a metropolitan region. It is nothing short of selfish. Those individuals, who may or may not claim to be more environmentally green than their suburban counterparts is equally responsible for adding to our car dependant, brown cloud inducing society by subscribing to such misoneism.

In the case of downtown, citizens grumble that downtown isn't the success its stakeholders set out to create and unnecessarily blame it on the city and Downtown Action Team (DAT) for its shortfalls. But at what point did citizens contribute to the effort? Ten years ago, approximately $25 million (this isn't a precise number but an close guesstimation) of taxpayer money was used when then mayor Baca stated the desire for revitalization. With that money, a couple parking garages, the Alvarado Transportation Center, and a taxpayer subsidized movie theatre were constructed. In response to that effort, the private sector has pitched in approximately a quarter million dollars for renovations and new construction throughout the area. Part of that was the result of a larger, national movement but it still accurately conveys the relation amongst private investment to municipal spending and infrastructural/catalyst type public investment.

Now, how does downtown revitalization, NIMBY-ism, and expensive condos tie into the environmentally sustainable city we all want to see you ask? Well, density is the "evil" word that no politician is willing to utter but is, begrudgingly to many people, the simple answer. An increase in density and revitalization through the construction of mixed-income housing, offices and inviting public spaces will make it possible for us to grow and sustain healthy, future populations in our region. Energy consumption for dense city dwellers is a fraction that of the suburban dwelling set. The adjoining walls and multiple levels of multi-family residential construction result in greatly reduced utility requirements. Population density results in increased public transportation requirements which allow people to live free of motor vehicles.

Now, imagine an Albuquerque with 1.5 million residents living in single family homes. Picture Austin traffic and a Phoenix-like aerial view. Now imagine that same 1.5 million residents but lets take half of that growth (1/2 of 600,000 ) and place them in mixed-use, denser neighborhoods. The result would resemble a mix of what we currently have with less traffic congestion than Austin due to growth at the edges, several dense neighborhoods that might resemble the north side of Chicago or much of San Francisco, and interconnecting mass transit. The more density that can be created will correlate into a greater reduction in energy consumption. Judging by what I know about "Burque's" love of it's views and sunshine, the manhattanization of our region will never be an issue. But a reduction in lawns and yards, a reduction in building heating and cooling loads (due to less wall exposures to the outside air), and less of a population dependant on air polluting vehicles would have an enormous affect on our sustainability. It would be foolish to continue rejecting 4-story buildings that lie one block away from our major pedestrian and commercial thoroughfares served by public transportation. To do so would be selfish and short sighted.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

The Downs

San Mateo County's answer to an obsolete racetrack. Lessons learned for Albuquerque? Article

A Nerd Moment

I'm not sure if any of you follow science much but this particle accelerator in Geneva is pretty big news as it is about to be fired up. Here's a fun video that explains it all.

We Are Not Alone

It is interesting when observing local discussions concerning the desires and needs of citizens. Every situation seemingly requires reinvention of the wheel. Not that the solutions of other cities should ever be the archetype from which to replicate. Instead, it is good to know that cities share similarities and therefore, it is to our advantage to keep up with our peers to gain some perspective.

I've always argued that our very own Duke City has one of the most magnificent settings of all major cities in the country and that our potential exceeds our ability at this time.

I ran across an article out of Tampa Bay that expresses how many of us feel and I thought I would share it.

Now if we could only capitalize on this "potential" and do something about it. One day perhaps Albuquerque will be mentioned with the likes of Portland, Austin, San Francisco, etc.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Skyscraper Goodness

I had to post this. The empress, Burj Dubai. Enjoy. (the source)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Walkable Albuquerque, Almost a Surprise

Walkscore has evaluated the data amongst the largest US cities and our own growing metropolis has been ranked a respectable 21st. Considering we are the 33rd (I think) largest city in the country, I think that's quite admirable. Now if we could only convince ourselves that we are ready for real mass transit options, imagine how our scores would improve. Imagine if the surrounding cities (Rio Rancho, Bernalillo, Los Lunas, Belen, South Valley) invested in walkable neighborhoods - and no, i'm not talking about subdivisions with neat trails and parks. Oh the possibilities...

Friday, June 27, 2008

Not So Expo New Mexico

An aerial view of the Expo area shows just how much space is being consumed by land that could be adding value to our tax base. Don't get me wrong, I'm not of the "grow, grow, grow" mantra, I just believe that this land has served its purpose and it is time to evolve. The Arabian Horse Show and PBR Rodeo Series are not returning any time soon. The Scorpions have moved on to the City of Vision but no gutters. Even the Downs are on their way to Moriarty. So what do we do with all of this land?

Some have suggested a new arena and expo center. Don't we already have one that we are currently paying for downtown in need of hotel rooms? The same thing will be necessary at this location except this location has zero in the way of infrastructure. Some people counter that the expo grounds provide greater access for the greater public. I would have to question whether they lived anywhere west of I-25 because this location is much more isolated and has far greater limited access from the freeways. In addition, the RailRunner provides direct access to our existing convention center/(possible arena).

Many citizens argue that investing in major public transit systems such as light-rail is a waste of money because of the high initial cost of implementation. What they nearly always forget to take into account is the effect such infrastructure has on its environment. For example, increasing the amount of buses along Central Ave will never convince a developer to spend his money on a location when he knows that a city can, at any moment, redirect such forms of transit. Conversely, if a city spends money on transportation infrastructure such as rail, a developer knows that he/she can expect a certain level of traffic near his development for some time to come - potentially till the building is paid for.

To make a long story short, it's going to take an investment from the public to change how our city is growing. We can't expect the "market" to do it for us. We'll never convince a developer to give us the arena we want without paying him/her back. There is no private company in the world that builds and operates a revenue generating mass transit system because it does not exist. These are basic infrastructure projects only we can invest in and build. We'll always have a Dallas/Phoenix-like city as long as we piss and moan about our quality of life and lack of options if we aren't willing to make the effort to change ourselves. It's like your home; if you aren't making investments in upgrading or maintaining, then it's probably not increasing in value.

Salt Lake City, a place laid out much like our very own metropolitan area has made the initial investment and now the nearby cities are literally fighting over who will get the right to obtain a train stop for commuters along with the walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods associated with this type of development. See the pictures below. Wouldn't this site be a terrific location, between downtown and uptown, to capture such a new form of development?

The amount of space available at Expo New Mexico lends itself to hundreds of uses. From new office space, single family detached homes, urban living, parks, soccer fields, etc. Oh the possibilities...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Fresh Renderings

I think this looks better than what they advertised early on in the design process as seen on BAT, here (scroll down).

The North side of the building along Silver Ave.
Courtyard View.
Overall plan.
I wouldn't mind the windmills as they were a bit whimsical and cool looking. I definitely think this design is slightly more elegant than the generic looking structure they originally proposed. Overall, I would have liked to have seen another level or two. Additionally, I hated that this concept provides a garage on three sides but I forget that the Lead overpass covers most of the southern facade. Hopefully the parking structure is attractive and arty like the PNM garage. I'm going to keep my fingers crossed that the property to the west provides some increased density. Eight stories isn't too much to ask for is it?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Get It Together Already

Touching on a topic that is quite near and dear to me is Albuquerque's lack of ability to keep young intellectual capital. Young professionals that move here to work for up and coming technology companies as well as our established institutions are often faced with the prospect of remaining in the city with great outdoor activities, a little funky culture, neat little museums and aquarium, or move on to cities that contain the types of amenities and varying nightlife that is so desirable among late 20 through early 40-somethings.

Meanwhile, cities such as Des Moines, Omaha, Oklahoma City, etc. are investing in their inner cities attempting to raise their status among liveable cities. All this effort is to ultimately attract the companies we take for granted that are landing and growing in our very own backyards. They are investing in the beautifying of their civic parks, building arenas and concert halls, building amazing pedestrian bridges over newly developed riverfronts and selecting world-renowned architects to design stunning public libraries. They are actively supporting the networks that are encouraging indie musics latest names as well as supporting artists in an effort to build on their current assets.

Mayor Chavez, on the other hand, appears to be gung ho on making our city a place for families. Meanwhile, he's forgetting about the 50% of adults whom command greater disposable income whom are increasingly looking to dwell in cities that provide them the quality of life that assists them in maintaining a desired quality of life. With companies like Fidelity, Schott Solar, Advent, and a slew of other nascent companies, we now have the companies from which to bank our future. But what is somehow being forgotten is the maintenance and update required in our growing city. In the last decade, we've added an interchange, small updates to our museums and that's all I can remember. In the meantime, we have created tax increment financing districts to subsidize family-friendly sprawling developments dependent on a driving public and expanded utility services in a metropolitan area that is rapidly approaching 1 million residents.
Last month the New York Times released a study which showed the average distances people commute to work. Our county did not prove to be friendly to those looking for jobs close to home. Increasingly, people have moved to the west side where jobs have been slow to come. Furthermore, instead of investing in downtown and encouraging companies to locate downtown, the city has taken no responsibility in any part of this "planning." When Blue Cross Blue Shield was looking for a location to build it's new headquarters, it was rumored that the final decision was made by a managed who based it on its proximity to her home. The city, instead, should have been at the table and suggesting a location that currently remains an empty parking lot or decaying property somewhere nearer to the inner city where workers could potentially take the bus or Rail Runner. I won't complain about the architecture of the new facility because I am a big fan, but I detest the location because it is literally on the edge of the city limits.
Similarly, while the RailRunner has been in operation for nearly two years, zero transit-oriented development has been built to take advantage of the current market. These villages, in other cities, have become interesting centers for citizens of all types to live, work and play. The live, work and play tag is becoming so cliche it's almost annoying but there is great value in the concept. Cities across the country are striving to develop mass transit in an effort to create these districts because of the revenue they generate due to the demand by citizens looking for such a lifestyle. Somehow, our city has managed to stifle and squander this opportunity.

Bad Council, Bad

What a mistake the council has made in rejecting this project. The neighborhood nimby's shouldn't have the power that this city has granted them. What a terrible precedence. This is the type of project that the city should be encouraging along Central Ave. From the Rio Grande up to San Meteo. What a great transition from an urban avenue (Central) to a neighborhood. I hope Sheffield Partners continues its efforts to develop in our sometimes impossible city.

Traffic Congestion

A brilliant plan. I was skeptical at first but how is this not a terrific option? Rail-Runner, Rapid Ride, Convention Center proximity, maintenance of the existing Baptist church, aesthetically pleasing train track awnings. There will always be naysayers who will whine and complain. Traffic congestion and parking shouldn't even be an issue when discussing this project as it lies in the core of our downtown. People should not have the option of parking in a lot 200 feet from the door as there is plenty of on-street parking and parking garages within a quarter mile of the facility as designed. As far as I'm concerned, the Fairgrounds need to be developed into a mixed-use community a-la Mesa del Sol for mixed-income residents complete with beautiful public spaces for weekend soccer matches and picnics. Expo centers are mere relics as "the city" is the new arena for such activities.
Over on DukeCityFix, someone said that Albuquerque needs to study other cities and stop thinking for itself. I must second this motion. Dozens of cities have taken this route and none have been disappointed with the results. Charlotte is one of those cities (shown above) where they have managed to build an arena and transit station a block apart. As a result, a new office building, Four Seasons hotel and performing arts center have followed. Albuquerque is falling behind in offering its citizens the amenities people look for in a hometown. Despite the opinions of some, there are plenty of young citizens making lots of dough in the Duke City. Sadly, we're often forced to hit the road to Denver, Phoenix, Dallas, Chicago, San Francisco, etc. to see our favorite bands and get a taste of city life. ABQ has so much to offer and it is so close to offering the variety and flavor that is so desirable for young folk but for one reason or another, the small minded, conservative people tend to get their way in our city and, thus, finds itself static while cities like Omaha, Des Moines, Tulsa, Austin, Charlotte, etc. make impressive progress in recreating their cities and attracting college educated residents who actually stay awhile.

I say stop wasting our money on repetitive studies and BUILD IT ALREADY!