ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — An abandoned former Sports Authority building is being transformed into a new entertainment venue, with space for multiple restaurants and bars, along with a 3,200-seat concert venue.
Daniel Chavez, the owner of Uptown Funk Dueling Pianos near ABQ Uptown, gave visitors a sneak peek Friday at his newest venture: Revel, a joint food and beverage destination and concert venue being built in a 55,000-square-foot retail space near Montaño NE.
Chavez said the $12.2 million Revel will host events ranging from live music to mixed martial arts tournaments, feature a sports bar, a second location of Uptown Funk piano bar and at least four local restaurants, including a second location of Saggios.
“This isn’t something that has really been done across the country,” Chavez said Friday.
Chavez, who has 35 years of experience working in the music industry, opened Uptown Funk, Albuquerque’s first dueling pianos bar, at Park Square in 2016. He said he was looking for another, less cramped, location of the piano bar, but couldn’t find a space that suited him. So, he and his family decided to think bigger.
Chavez’s daughter, Danielle, said she would serve as general manager for the space, after relocating from Austin earlier this year. Once it opens, Revel will employ up to 50 full-time workers.
Chavez said the new location of Uptown Funk, a lively venue where two professional pianists take audience requests of popular songs, won’t replace the Uptown location, at least not yet.
In addition to the piano bar, Revel will host Draft Day Sports Bar, a sports bar with a variety of flat-screen televisions and musical instruments on the wall. Additionally, the space will be home to a few restaurants that will be familiar to University of New Mexico students: Saggios, Pericos and Rude Boy Cookies.
Hundred Hands Craft Coffee will manage a walk-up window near the front. Chavez said he’s made an effort to keep the space as locally focused as possible, adding that he’s looking for a hamburger restaurant or barbecue restaurant to fill the remaining space.
“Baja Fresh would have been great, but at the same time, it wasn’t local, it didn’t fit the bill,” he said.
The back half of the building will be dedicated to a 22,500-square-foot, all-ages concert venue, which Chavez said is one of the largest privately owned venues in New Mexico.
He said the space fills a need within Albuquerque’s music scene, noting that bands traveling between cities like Austin and Phoenix often stop in Albuquerque. Having a large, easy-to-find venue allows them to easily add an Albuquerque tour date to their schedules.
“We’re going to make it a place to remember,” Chavez said.
The first phase of the project, which includes the sports bar and restaurants, could be open by November. Chavez added that he hopes the concert venue can begin hosting bands and other acts early next year.
The building, at 4720 Alexander NE, is far from a traditional space or location for a concert venue. However, Chavez said he liked the building’s central location, with easy access to both interstates and ample parking for bands and concert-goers alike.
If it goes well, Revel could become a model for other empty big-box stores, which developers in Albuquerque and elsewhere have struggled to fill in recent years.
“I think that unconventional is more conventional than we think these days,” Chavez said.