ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — ¡Traditions!, the dilapidated former outlet mall between Albuquerque and Santa Fe, may be getting a new lease on life as a film studio for New Mexico’s fast-growing movie and television industry.
Jim Long, who has owned the 49.6-acre property for nearly two decades, is looking to sell the property to media companies in need of studio space in New Mexico. While Long has sought to sell the property in the past, he said the time is right to find a new use for it. He cited New Mexico’s booming film and television industry, which has brought interest from out-of-state companies that the state doesn’t currently have the space to accommodate.
“There’s definitely demand here that’s not being met,” Long said.
The shopping center, located nearly equidistant from Albuquerque and Santa Fe along Interstate 25, opened as the New Mexico Outlet Center in 1993. However, the mall closed four years later amid ownership changes and competition from Fashion Outlets of Santa Fe, according to the Journal’s archives. Long purchased the property in 2000, and re-branded the mall as ¡Traditions!, with a focus on restaurants, art galleries and other cultural offerings.
The abandoned mall was nearly converted to a film studio in 2008. Long said he had a buyer lined up and permission from Sandoval County, but the economic downturn caused the deal to fall through. More than a decade later, Long wants to try again, with a good economy and a more competitive incentive package in place in New Mexico.
“We feel this is the right time,” Long said.
New Mexico’s film and television industry has come a long way in the last decade. Since the start of 2019, 39 movies, television series and multimedia productions have publicized shooting in New Mexico, with about 20 more in production, according to the New Mexico Film Office.
Keith Sherman, associate at S.C. Sherman and Co., which is working with Long to sell the building, said the state is on the map for companies based in Hollywood more than in the past, thanks in part to a new set of state incentives for the film and television industry. Sherman, who has a background in entertainment, said if the industry continues to grow, it will require more sound stages to keep up with that growth.
While the abandoned mall might seem an odd choice for a film studio, Sherman said the facility has some advantages over other properties. Its location along the highway between Albuquerque and Santa Fe means workers from both cities can get there relatively easily. Sherman said the facility’s 1,000 parking spaces and access to 4.7 kilovolts of electricity are evidence that it could accommodate several sound stages.
“We think that is the highest and best use for the property,” Sherman said. “Otherwise, it’s just land.”
Thanks to the near-deal in 2008, Long said the property is already zoned for use as a film studio. Sherman added that the space could accommodate three sound stages, but added that the eventual buyer can choose how those sound stages will be configured.
Sherman did not disclose the listing price.