The Barelas neighborhood will get a new daycare and mixed-use space that will include storefronts and commissary kitchens next summer.
That’s courtesy of Homewise, a community development finance institution, which is investing millions of dollars into the renovation and expansion of two buildings the organization owns.
Homewise says the total project costs stand at about $9.9 million. About $2 million in financing came from a congressional project funding award received by the Street Food Institute, a non-profit organization, and $3.3 million in subsidy. Homewise is financing the rest.
Homewise Senior Director of Community Development Johanna Gilligan said the two-story building, which is about 20,000 square feet on Fourth Street near Barelas Coffee House and which will house the Street Food Institute, will also feature space for storefronts. So far, Homewise has identified some tenants to fill the space, including a popsicle shop and a handful of art galleries
“It’s really a kind of incubator ecosystem concept that we think is in keeping with the history of that building,” Gilligan said.
The second building located at 803 Second NW, which is about 3,500 square feet and directly across from the Rail Yards, will be leased by Koala Children’s Academy, an early childhood center. The number of children enrolled in the daycare will expand to 60 with the move to the space, and about 50% of those spots will be reserved for children from low-income families.
Homewise Community Development Program Manager Isaac Hammond-Paul said childcare was something people in the neighborhood said they wanted. Homewise, in fact, had put out a community survey to neighborhood residents in 2020 asking them what their concerns and needs were.
Hammond-Paul called about 50 daycares in the Albuquerque area, Hammond-Paul said, before he landed on Koala Children’s Academy. It helps, he said, that the daycare that will fill the space is “intentionally bilingual” in their approach.
“It’s been like a really interesting kind of foray for us into the work of supporting early learning providers in expanding, and we’re actually kind of getting deeper into that work now,” Hammond-Paul said.
It was important for Homewise through these projects to keep to the heart of the community — which means supporting local artists, food businesses and many others with usable space. And it was vital that Homewise create a leasing structure “that create huge benefits to the operators in terms of their ability to eventually purchase these properties,” Hammond-Paul said.
“I think to me the thread that connects all these is this kind of cultural corridor concept where it’s like, what does the future look like?” Gilligan said. “It’s about economic opportunities that are really building on the rich cultural heritage of Albuquerque.”