Park Square's new flavor: Sawmill developer plans new Uptown food hall

Park Square’s new flavor: Sawmill developer plans new Uptown food hall


Uptown office buildings One Park Square and Two Park Square. The two buildings are part of a more than $10 million renovation of the area, including a new food hall. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

Three years after food hall Sawmill Market opened its doors, developer Jim Long has another food hall in the works, this time in Uptown.

Park Square Market, set to open in summer 2024, will occupy four buildings, including the first floor of one of two office buildings Long owns in the area. Both Class A office spaces will also be included in the more than $10 million renovation of Park Square Plaza on Louisiana and Indian School.

The Heritage Hotels CEO said the food hall will host between 15 and 20 businesses, including a cocktail bar, a craft beer tasting room, a wood-fired pizza shop and more. A few tenants are already set; the existing Japanese Kitchen is joined by the new offerings, which include a Keva Juice and a Gruet Winery tasting room. All in all, the food hall will fill 20,000 square feet.

A map, produced by FBT architects, of the planned renovations to Park Square Plaza. (Courtesy of Jim Long)

Office buildings One Park Square and Two Park Square were designed in the late 1980s by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill — the architecture firm that designed the Sears Tower. Long bought the first building in 2015 with an investment group, and the second in 2016.

FBT Architects is designing the project. Bruce Farmer, the principal architect on Park Square, said the new food hall will occupy only previously existing structures.

“We’re not really looking to change the architecture,” Farmer said. “Basically, what we’re doing is we’re adding a level of energy and function by creating a friendly kind of elegant environment out there … the biggest thing we need out there is people.”

FBT is actually a tenant of One Park Square, and Farmer’s office overlooks the plaza. He said that the area has craved more traffic for years.

“I walk through that space twice a day coming to and from the office,” Farmer said. “You look at it and go, ‘There’s never any people here.’ But it’s a beautiful space.”

An exterior rendering of the renovated Park Square Plaza. (Courtesy of Jim Long)

Abigail Plantier, founder of Denver-based design company Maximalist, is the interior designer on the project. She said the current designs pay homage to the buildings’ histories.

“We studied the building at length to really better understand what SOM’s vision was,” Plantier said. “All of it was centered around this square, this plaza full of groves of trees. But the buildings’ themselves, the architecture and the materials that they used were based around these two buildings reflecting each other.”

Plantier said the North and South food halls will be quasi-reflections of each other, with contrasting designs. One hall will have a light, neutral color scheme; the other will be darker. Harkening back to the trees in the plaza, Plantier said, the whole project will include organic designs, juxtaposed with sharp, geometric shapes.

“The story has really started from the name itself, Park Square,” Plantier said. “Think about ‘park’: it’s organic, it’s green, it has lots of movement, it’s vibrant, it’s luscious … then ‘square’, being the complete opposite of that, it’s geometric, it’s hard.”

An interior rendering of one of the planned food halls at Park Square Plaza. (Courtesy of Jim Long)

Farmer said the grove of trees at the heart of Park Square Plaza will be preserved. A new diagonal walking path will cut the plaza in two and make the Sandias more visible.

“One of the original tenets of SOM, they were playing on the way that angle looked at the Sandia Mountains,” Farmer said. “So we’re kind of restoring that kind of vision and hoping people come in … and see all the way through the plaza to the Sandia Mountains.”

Like Sawmill Market, Long said, Park Square Plaza will focus primarily on local tenants, rather than chains. But the design of Park Square Plaza is slightly different, Farmer said, fitting into the urban, corporate landscape in Uptown.

The office spaces will also be renovated. Over the past seven years, Long said, the focus has been on filling vacancies. Now that occupancy is upwards of 90%, “it’s time to focus on the beautification of Park Square,” Long said. Some of the updates include modernizing the facades of the buildings and two parking garages.

Long said the updates have a dual purpose: one, they provide an attractive place to work as employers try to bring workers back into the office, and two, they can entice other employers to move into the area.

“It will be a place that you’re not going to want to stay home and work from home,” Long said.

Both Albuquerque and New Mexico have long had a shortage of Class A office spaces. According to Long, there are only a handful of Class A properties around the state.

“There’s only four in the whole state of New Mexico. Four,” Long said. “That’s not very many. But, I think as Albuquerque sort of grows up as a community and we start to attract other businesses from other states … I think they will be seeking higher level of office quality.”

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