Construction to Start on ‘Live-Work-Play’ Building in The Duke City

Innovate ABQ debuts first building phase after receiving approval from the University of New Mexico.

By Anca Gagiuc, Associate Editor

Architectural rendering of the new Innovate ABQ building
Architectural rendering of the new Innovate ABQ building

Albuquerque, N.M.—The University of New Mexico Board of Regents approved an agreement with a local development group to start work on Phase I of the Innovate ABQ mixed-use development at the northwest corner of Broadway Boulevard and Central Avenue in Albuquerque. Construction on the nearly 159,000-square-foot building is set to begin this summer.

“This has been our vision from the start,” UNM President Robert Frank said in a prepared statement. “We’ve been working with our public and private partners to bring our students and researchers together with entrepreneurs and innovators in an inspired environment that can spur economic development and create jobs that benefit all of us.”

The new building will go up six stories and will be built north of the existing structure known as the former First Baptist Church of Albuquerque. The ground floor will be used for the University’s technology transfer and economic development division—STC.UNM, academic space for Innovation Academy, a Nusenda Credit Union branch, café and small fitness center. The five upper floors will consist of 155 two-bedroom/two-bath units.

“This extraordinary opportunity is a catalyst for our city, higher education and downtown,” said Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry. “This project will help the revitalization of downtown Albuquerque by bringing UNM’s Innovation Academy and student housing to the Innovate ABQ site. I want to thank President Frank and the regents for their leadership as we diversify opportunity in our local economy.”

Innovate ABQ Elevations
Innovate ABQ Elevations

The project’s estimated cost is $35 million, but there is no upfront cost for UNM as the three-member development team is responsible for the first phase of the development’s site planning and construction—Signet Development of Ohio, Goodman Realty Group of New Mexico and Dekker/Perich/Sabatini will pay for the building. The development group will be the landlord and the UNM Board of Regents will be listed as the tenant in a 30-year lease on the building. Innovate ABQ Inc. will lease the land to the developer.

“This is another step in our journey to bring about greater economic opportunity for our community and the State of New Mexico,” said Terry Laudick, chairman of Innovate ABQ Inc.’s Board of Directors. “With the University’s commitment to increasing access to their research and students through Innovate ABQ, more companies and entrepreneurs will soon congregate and collaborate at this hub of innovation.”

The operating expenses and maintenance will be paid for by UNM. The initial rent cost to the university will be $1.8 million with escalation clauses at regular intervals. Rent in year 30 will be just over $3.3 million.

“This building will be the nucleus of Innovate ABQ in the same way that Innovate ABQ will be the nucleus of the larger innovation district in Albuquerque,” said Lisa Kuuttila, STC.UNM CEO & chief economic development officer.

Renderings courtesy of Dekker/Perich/Sabatini