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Innovate ABQ chooses development team for next phase

Innovate ABQ has selected a team to handle the next phase of developing the public-private project intended to spur innovation and entrepreneurship in Albuquerque.

Signet Development, Goodman Realty Group and Decker/Perich/ Sabatini will have 90 days to do preliminary planning for the seven-acre site at Broadway and Central, after which they will submit a more detailed proposal for the project. At that time, the Innovate ABQ board will determine whether the Signet team will be selected as the actual developer for the project.

The University of New Mexico purchased the former First Baptist Church property for $6.65 million as part of a broad plan by UNM, the city, county and the business community to build a high-tech research and development zone that can help turn the city’s core into a bustling center for technology-based economic growth.

The site eventually could include 824,000 square feet of facility space, according to a master plan approved by the UNM Board of Regents. It will be built in multiple phases over 10 to 20 years and include a mixture of research and laboratory facilities, business offices, administrative space, residential housing for students and others, and possibly a hotel and retail shops.

Lisa Kuuttila, president and CEO of UNM’s Science and Technology Corporation, said work by the Signet team over the next three months likely will include such things as a more in-depth market assessment and site analysis, preliminary financing plans, determination of a mix of spaces and order of development on the site. The team will work at its own expense during that time toward negotiation of a final development agreement.

The Innovate ABQ board unanimously chose the Signet team based on its response to a request for proposals issued this spring. TheĀ  group was selected because of its “strong balance of local and national talent and experience with this type of project,” according to a release from Innovate ABQ.

Dekker/Perich/Sabitini, an architectural services firm, and the Goodman Realty Group are based in Albuquerque.

Signet, based in Jacksonville, Fla., was the developer on Innovation Square, a 40-acre research district at the University of Florida-Gainesville. University of New Mexico President Bob Frank has pointed to that project as a model for Innovate ABQ.

J. Jason Perry, Signet senior vice president, said his company was excited about working on Innovate ABQ. He said the company and Innovate ABQ will be talking over the coming week to define just what will be done over the next three months, but that it ultimately will lead to “a definitive project that we all agree can be delivered in the marketplace.”

“It sounds like the University of New Mexico is looking to really advance in the areas of innovation and entrepreneurship. That seems to be at the forefront. We think that’ll be a catalyst and really get the university out and working with the business community,” Perry said.