At least five new Starbucks planned in ABQ

A new Starbucks is going up next to the LongHorn Steakhouse across from Cottonwood Mall, one of several in the works now around Albuquerque. (Roberto E. Rosales/Journal)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — “It’s a Starbucks.”

That’s become an oft-used response to questions about commercial construction in the Albuquerque metro area these days because, well, the coffee colossus is behind a lot of it right now.

Public documents show there are at least five new Starbucks in various stages of the city planning/approval process right now — and that’s not including a licensed location slated for pueblo-owned land near the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, which is expected to break ground later this month.

That fast-moving building going up next to LongHorn Steakhouse on Coors Bypass NW? It’s a Starbucks.

The java giant has plans for new locations at the old Pancho’s Buffet site at the San Mateo/Montgomery intersection, at the Lomas/Washington intersection and near the Juan Tabo/Copper intersection, records show.

Starbucks also has signed on to build a store at Sandia Square, an infill retail project along Montgomery NE, a little east of Juan Tabo, said Lisa Allen-Urrea of Sedberry & Associates, the commercial real estate broker working on the development.

Wilger Enterprises is building the Lomas and Coors Bypass stores, adding to about 20 Starbucks it’s previously done. The new stores measure about 2,000 square feet and take about 75-90 days to finish, owner John Wilger said. That’s slight compared to the general contractor’s other local projects — like Carmike Cinemas in the South Valley — but it’s still good work.

“They’re not huge jobs,” Wilger said, “but we’re always happy to have the opportunity.”

Starbucks — which lists 33 Albuquerque locations on its website — won’t talk about the current Duke City developments or its larger vision for the market.

In an email to the Journal, a company spokeswoman said only that Starbucks is “always looking for great locations to better meet the needs of our customers and we are continually evaluating our store portfolio,” but that it has “no store-opening plans to announce.”

The new locations may not in fact represent net store growth for the chain, which now has more than 22,000 stores worldwide.

Allen-Urrea — who cautioned that she doesn’t represent Starbucks — said the Sandia Square location would replace an existing, cafe-style Starbucks.

And that kind of repositioning is not unprecedented. In the Interstate 40/San Mateo area. Starbucks recently moved across the street, leaving an older store for a new, drive-through-equipped location in the Bed Bath & Beyond-anchored development a block away.