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A new type of anchor tenant lands in Winrock

Construction of New Mexico Orthopedics’ office complex is underway at Winrock Town Center. (Greg Sorber/Albuquerque Journal)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — In a way, the recent news from the ongoing redevelopment of Winrock Town Center reflects a return to the mall’s groundbreaking roots.

In June, New Mexico Orthopaedics signed a lease to occupy 68,000 square feet of space near Regal Cinemas. For New Mexico Orthopaedics, it’s an opportunity to offer patients many of its services in a location with abundant parking and nearby amenities.

And for Winrock, the new tenant helps the shopping center’s evolution into a setting where visitors can play, work and live, according to Darin Sand, vice president for development at Goodman Realty Group, which is leading the redevelopment project.

“I think our center is unique in a lot of ways,” Sand said.

When the Winrock Shopping Center was completed in 1961, it was a game-changing development for Albuquerque. Winrock was the first indoor shopping mall in New Mexico, and it provided a shopping experience unlike any other in the city until the nearby Coronado Center opened later that decade.

Although Winrock fell into decline after newer, larger competitors were built, developers are more than a decade into an elaborate redevelopment project, converting the shopping mall into a development known as Winrock Town Center. The center retains room for more traditional restaurant and retail tenants, but Sand said health-oriented businesses will be a key component of the mall’s rebirth.

“We’ve envisioned a medical or health and wellness component to Winrock,” he said.

The approach is gaining momentum in shopping centers nationwide. Declines in traditional big-box retail and a push for more convenient health care options have caused more such operations to set up shop in malls and other retail centers. Sand said it helps broaden the mix of tenants as the shopping center continues to take shape.

“It certainly diversifies, from a developer’s perspective,” Sand said. “It gives people a reason to come to the site.”

Nancy Adelsheim, executive director of New Mexico Orthopaedics, said the relationship helps the orthopedic provider as well. The business has operated out of its current location on Cedar Street SE, next to Presbyterian Hospital, for about 15 years. However, with the current lease about to expire, Adelsheim said, she was looking for a space that would be closer to New Mexico Orthopaedics’ surgery center, on Presbyterian’s Kaseman campus in Northeast Albuquerque, while providing additional parking and other amenities for patients.

“There seems to be this growing trend in health care, where physicians … are looking to relocate outside traditional medical buildings,” she said.

The facility is scheduled to be completed by the end of December, Adelsheim said. Once it’s complete, the building will house about 200 full-time employees. Both Adelsheim and Sand are optimistic that New Mexico Orthopaedics’ presence will help attract other health providers and wellness-oriented companies.

Shipping-container developer sets his sights higher

Elsewhere in Albuquerque, the developer behind Albuquerque’s first shipping-container shopping area began work on another, more elaborate one in the Northeast Heights.

Tin Can Alley, a planned mixed-use development, will feature shipping containers. It is under construction in the Northeast Heights. The development features an outdoor patio with views of the Sandia Mountains. (Courtesy of Roy Solomon)

In June, builders began work on Tin Can Alley, a multiuse development that incorporates shipping containers in its design, after a groundbreaking event last fall. Developer Roy Solomon said Tin Can Alley will bring an array of local restaurants and other businesses to the southeast corner of Alameda and San Pedro NE, potentially bringing together a broad mix of families and professionals, much as Green Jeans Farmery, Solomon’s first shipping-container development, has done.

“My main goal was to make sure we didn’t lose the charm of Green Jeans,” Solomon said.

Green Jeans Farmery – named in part for proposed gardens surrounding the shopping center that never came to fruition – opened near Interstate 40 and San Mateo NE four years ago. At the time, Solomon said the development, which uses shipping containers for its storefronts and exterior structure, was unique in Albuquerque, and proved challenging to get off the ground. Ultimately, however, he said Green Jeans proved successful, and remains fully leased four years later.

While the concepts are similar, Solomon said, Tin Can Alley will differ from Green Jeans in a few key ways. First, the development won’t rely strictly on shipping containers, but rather will blend the containers with conventional architecture, which will allow the development to have higher ceilings and feel more spacious, Solomon said.

He said Tin Can Alley will feature garage doors enclosing a portion of the seating area, which will close during inclement weather and open when the sun comes out, giving the center space that can be used no matter what the weather holds.

Additionally, Solomon is seeking a wider variety of food vendors than the first shopping center has. Eleven tenants have signed on, with food offerings ranging from Vietnamese soup at Pho Kup to Jamaican food at Guava Tree, which operates a restaurant in Nob Hill. The restaurants will share a commercial dishwashing area, which allows Tin Can Alley to reduce the amount of disposable silverware it uses, while giving the small businesses a chance to split the cleaning costs.

“I find everything that’s shared like that is one step closer to the chances of a small business making it,” Solomon said. “Here, you can share in the downs and share in the ups.”

After some permitting challenges that delayed the start of construction, Solomon said, he now expects Tin Can Alley to open in January or February. He is still seeking a few vendors, including a coffee shop and a miniature nursery, for the development.

“I’m still open for something that’s unique and different that would add something to our community and the community around us,” he said.

Stephen Hamway is the Journal’s retail reporter. He can be contacted at smontoya@abqjournal.com or by calling 505-823-3911.

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