Downtown grocery store closer to reality

Posted at: 01/17/2013 9:29 AM
By: Erica Zucco, KOB Eyewitness News 4

People who live and work downtown are one step closer to having a grocery store in the area.

The Albuquerque Development commission has three viable proposals on the table that detail plans to build a grocery store and several other businesses in a 1-acre plot of land on Silver between 2nd Street and 3rd Street.

“For people living in the downtown area, it's imperative to have retail services for people actually living in the downtown area and that's why we were so excited about this grocery store,” said Gilbert Montano, deputy chief administrative officer for the City of Albuquerque.

The city purchased the land thirteen years ago in 2000 for $575,000, as a “carrot” incentive for developers, which will be able to lease or rent the land.

In June, Mayor Richard Berry announced a request for proposals from local developers, and on Thursday the commission will decide which they want to go with.

Negotiations on terms will take about a month, and then planning the area and construction will begin.

“The one commitment the mayor's always made and the city's always made is that we will protect our tax dollars and we will make sure the city has a good deal,” Montano said. “But for the policy benefit of the grocery store, we're very excited for this to go forward and see a new service offered downtown and what will be part of this organic approach the mayor's taken to take one project at a time and collectively improve our downtown area.”

Many Albuquerque residents feel adding a grocery store downtown would increase livability and make it a more vibrant community.

“You have to drive so far to get to a grocery store so if you could walk to a grocery store or a grocery store that’s close by it helps the residents,” resident Tom Prettyman said.

“It draws more residents, drives up property values, helps lower income people eat better, it's all good.”

City officials echo the sentiment.

“[When you] have people living downtown in a density, it becomes a safer place and a more viable place for future successful downtowns to grow,” Montano said.

It will also benefit people working in the area.

“I think there's not a lot of food options, even at lunch, it seems like a lot of people drive someplace to get food which is silly when there's a great downtown. I think a grocery store would help,” Prettyman said.