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...

6 comments:

Michael said...

Good points all. I've long been a proponent of getting a subway in ABQ. I don't know how feasible something like that is, but it seems like we have a lot of hub-type areas already available that we'd be able to plug that system into. Dotwntown at the Alvarado Center, near the malls, the North Valley, etc. Glad to see some more writing. :)

Elizabeth said...

I agree. As a person who owns a home in the neighborhood directly west of the Expo area, i would love to see something great develop. I also think that having good quality housing options and some mixed-use business areas would be a great thing for the area, which is in dire need of revitalization. My street is full of houses that are being renovated and fixed up, but there is little beyond the neighborhood that looks new. Lomas and Central in this part of town have looked the same my entire 27 years in ABQ. I consistently hear from people that i live in the "ghetto", and that is all because they dont go into the neighborhoods. All they see is a dilapidated Central that now has no eating or shopping to speak of, unless you want auto parts.

I really hope that they think big and do something really exciting, not just a new fair ground.

Michael said...

Nice new banner. :)

Tim said...

Elizabeth, I think it may take the neighborhood to come out and decide what is best for the neighborhood. Whether it be a whole new sector plan or the neighborhood association making their opinions known to the city. I have hope that Richardson's team will come up with a practical solution.

Thanks Micheal!

bathtub restoration brooklyn said...

This is a great post and i really enjoyed it and i want to visit this expo center in maxico and i really like it.

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Well the upper view is fantastic and and i wish they are working on too many new projects and going to do something exciting.