UNM puts convenience store plan on hold

A proposal to lease University of New Mexico land at the South Campus to a convenience store chain is on hold over questions about alcohol sales and whether the store fits with the university’s larger property development vision.

Maverik Inc., a Utah-based convenience store chain, wants to lease 1.5 acres of UNM land on Avenida Cesar Chavez near the Pit. It plans to build a gas station and convenience store that would sell fresh food, beer and wine, according to information UNM’s real estate director presented this week to the board of Lobo Development Corp. It would pay $95,000 annually in rent with 10-percent increases every five years.

But the Lobo Development board, which includes UNM administrators and members of the public, voted to table the long-term ground lease request. Members wanted more information about the plan, including whether the store would operate 24 hours a day and what impact that could have on area crime. Some also cited concerns about allowing beer and wine sales next to the Lobo Village student housing development.

“I think what we’re trying to do is make a business case and I get that, but I think we have responsibility from a moral perspective (about what we are) doing adjacent to where we’re housing our students,” board member Maria Griego-Raby said.

Board member David Harris, UNM’s executive vice president for administration, said he had mixed feelings about the idea but noted that Lobo Village residents currently lack access to services the store could bring.

“We’ve talked for a long time since we brought in Lobo Village that we have absolutely no services there available to the residents — we have no food, no gasoline, things that they need,” he said.

Maverik has over 300 stores in 11 western states, according to its website.

Tom Neale, UNM’s real estate director, told the Lobo Development board that the South Campus site is part of the company’s larger plans to expand into the New Mexico market.

The company did not respond to emailed Journal questions about its plans.

Neale told the board he would discuss its questions with Maverik and report back at a future meeting.

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