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UNM Regents OK Innovate ABQ building purchase

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churchUniversity of New Mexico regents unanimously voted Friday to invest $7.24 million in a seven-acre site Downtown where UNM”s Innovate ABQ initiative would be housed.

“I’m thrilled,” UNM President Bob Frank told the Journal. “We appreciate the regents’ support and that they did all their due diligence. It is a better project because of all the research.”

The board — six were present for the vote and one had left — had asked for more information about the First Baptist Church property at Central and Broadway Downtown, where the research district would be based, in a previous meeting. On Friday, a majority of the board were satisfied they got the answers.

Board President Jack Fortner scheduled a special meeting Friday because UNM only has until Jan. 5 to accept or reject a $1.5 million U.S. Commerce Department grant to help pay for the Downtown site.

The grant, combined with a $3 million donation from New Mexico Educators Federal Credit Union and $2 million in city bond money, would just about cover the property’s $6.6 million price tag.

Administrators asked for and got approval to spend the donated funds, as well as authorization for $800,000 more from the UNM Foundation to pay for a master plan and design guidelines for the site.

Administrators also asked in early December for $5.66 million in foundation funding to acquire and improve the Aperture Center at Mesa del Sol, but regents are not expected to discuss that until January.

Fortner said administrators have provided a lot more information since Dec. 6 to address regents’ questions.

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