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.