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City has yet to pick ‘Civic North’ partner

More than a year ago, the city began seeking a private sector development partner to help transform a 212-space parking lot next to Civic Plaza into an “urban destination for residents and visitors of Albuquerque” complete with a public amenity like a museum or park.

Three groups answered the city’s request for proposals by the April deadline, and the Albuquerque Development Commission was expected to hear a presentation June 20 en route to making a selection. That would then trigger the negotiation of a development agreement.

But the ADC has held no such meeting, and made no such decision.

In fact, the proposals, which have not been made public, are still in the review process.

Lawrence Rael, the city’s chief operating officer, said picking a partner has taken longer than expected because the city wants to conduct a more thorough analysis of each proposal.

He said the three bidders each took “very different approaches” to the project, and the city is now hiring a third-party consultant to evaluate their financial feasibility.

The review is intended to help the ad hoc committee that is reviewing all submissions and making a recommendation to the development commission. The consultant’s analysis, Rael said, would “ensure the committee had correct information to compare apples to apples.”

The review will include “construction costs, operating budgets and market feasibility,” city spokeswoman Jessie Damazyn said in an email to the Journal.

The city had last October issued a request for proposals for what it’s calling the “Civic North,” saying in its solicitation it wanted “to partner with a Master Developer for the development of a new urban redevelopment project” on a 2.05-acre parcel bounded by Third, Fourth, Marquette and Roma. Presently a parking lot, the city said it would consider any sale price or ground lease rate for the site “as long as the City can show fair value was obtained.”

The city required all proposals include a “public amenity” and listed a few potential options, including a park or gathering space, an auditorium, or a museum.

“The Subject Site is located in the heart of Downtown Albuquerque, and as such, the full site and building design should positively contribute to the activity, energy and excitement of the immediate area and downtown community,” the RFP said. “Interior and exterior spaces should be designed for use throughout the day and night.”

Rael said all bidders met the “public amenity” requirement but that he could not elaborate. The city cannot release the contents of the proposals until after completing negotiations with the chosen bidder, according to state law.

Damazyn said there is no set timetable for the third-party’s financial analysis, committee review and ADC selection, but that it is unlikely to occur until at least the new year.

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