Rio Rancho is about to see a sharp upturn in commercial development if the city’s business leaders have any say in the matter.
Last Thursday, about 65 developers, contractors, lenders, brokers and other business people attended the first meeting of the Rio Rancho Roundtable, a committee that operates under the auspices of the NAIOP New Mexico chapter, which is the commercial real estate development association for the state.
“It was an amazing turnout, which is good news for Rio Rancho,” said Lynne Andersen, president of NAIOP in New Mexico. “There is a lot of interest in creating jobs.”
Local developers “are particularly encouraged by Keith Riesberg, our new city manager, the team he has assembled, and their whole attitude and approach to working with the development community,” Jeanie Springer-Knight said in an interview.
Riesberg spoke at the March meeting. He represented the city, along with Dolores Wood, the new director of development services; Matt Geisel, convention and visitors bureau manager; Jim Arrowsmith, director of planning and zoning; Michael Savage, chief building official; and other city staff members.
Springer-Knight, a partner in Springer5 Investments, said she and Paul Wymer, a project manager/architect at Bohannan Huston; Joe Sierra, market president for Century Bank in Rio Rancho; and Mike Skolnick, a qualifying broker at Excalibur Realty & Investment, serve as coordinators for the roundtable.
These four “were particularly passionate about Rio Rancho,” Springer-Knight said. All of them, except for Skolnick, serve on the NAIOP board. Andersen has long wanted to expand NAIOP to Rio Rancho, Springer-Knight said.
The committee meetings are “more of an educational venue,” said Andersen. Participants discuss what’s going on, look at government policy issues as they relate to commercial real estate and touch base with a lot of those people who either own or manage property in the city.
Anyone who attends the roundtable will find like-minded participants “looking at everything that impacts the health of the city, which impacts the health of real estate — the economic vitality of the city,” she added.
“We’re confident that we just got a city government that is also very, very interested in working hard to create a new life, a new bloodline for future development,” Springer-Knight said of the recent election.
Several political candidates and sitting city councilors also attended the roundtable.
In the coming months, the roundtable hopes to hear from the new mayor of Rio Rancho and, separately, devote a meeting to economic development, Springer-Knight said.
Presbyterian Rust Medical Center has been a great partner, Springer-Knight said, offering its facility to host the meeting.
The monthly meetings happen in the large community conference room on the lower level at Rust. Participants sit around a large round table.
On April 3, Jeff McBee, hospital administrator at Rust, will address the Rio Rancho Roundtable. Representatives from Dekker/Perich/Sabatini, the design firm for Rust, will also be there to discuss the hospital’s $80 million expansion project expected to begin this summer.
Across the street from Rust is Rio Rancho’s Unser Pavilion, for which Springer-Knight serves as developer.
Springer-Knight wants the meetings to encourage collaboration between the public and private sectors and feature an open discussion of opportunities, bringing in outside investors and how to deliver results.
For now, NAIOP will not require membership from people who attend the committee meetings, Andersen said.
The committee probably has a six-month window to build a strong base, Springer-Knight added. She wants the roundtable to become the meeting where if you have anything to do with Rio Rancho, you want to attend.
The committee meetings for the Rio Rancho Roundtable will be the first Thursday of every month at 7:30 a.m. Anyone interested in attending should RSVP with Deanna Trujillo of NM NAIOP at 345-6976.