With Walmart’s forthcoming closure creating a massive void in Southeast Albuquerque’s grocery landscape, local officials say they are hoping to buy and redevelop the property.
City, state and Bernalillo County officials announced Tuesday they are cobbling together resources to acquire the store at 301 San Mateo SE, citing its importance to International District residents.
In a series of statements included in a news release from Mayor Tim Keller’s office, officials referenced the potential for a “transformative project” and “community asset” that might include food, and perhaps even housing. But they laid out no specifics, saying the community should help set the vision.
Keller spokeswoman Staci Drangmeister said the redevelopment process remains in “step one,” given that officials learned only a few weeks ago that the store was closing.
“It is preliminary, but we want residents in the area to know we are getting started now,” she said in an emailed response to Journal questions.
The vision may include another grocery store, though any such project would likely entail partnering with an outside operator as the city did with Downtown’s Silver Street Market.
Whatever happens at 301 San Mateo is also at least partially up to Walmart, which owns the site. The company did not respond to a Journal inquiry late Tuesday, but a real estate broker who has worked with Walmart said the property is not now on the market.
“They haven’t made a decision,” Bob Feinberg, senior vice president and principal of Colliers International Albuquerque, said, citing recent conversations with the company. “It’s not for sale; it’s not for lease (now).”
However, Drangmeister said the company is “planning to sell” for an unknown price through a process open to all buyers.
“They did indicate that they are interested in talking to the city about possible city purchase as part of the process,” she said.
State Sen. Antoinette Sedillo Lopez and state Rep. Janelle Anyanonu, Albuquerque Democrats, each expect to provide $1 million in state capital outlay funding toward a purchase, according to the news release.
Officials are also closely watching state legislation that would allow the city’s Metropolitan Redevelopment Agency, which works with the private sector on revitalization efforts, to provide a larger economic incentive to such projects as the Walmart redevelopment.
The retail giant announced Feb. 8 that it would shutter the San Mateo store on March 10.
Journal staff writer Matthew Narvaiz contributed to this report.