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Innovate ABQ starting to show domino effect

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Viewed from Gold Avenue looking north, this computer-generated image shows the existing church on the left and a condo building on the right in a proposed redevelopment of the city block at the southeast corner of Broadway and Central. (Courtesy of Archis Design)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Ambitious plans for a mixed-use, R&D-driven redevelopment called Innovate ABQ is showing signs of creating a domino effect in the area of Broadway and Central at the east end of Downtown.

A preliminary proposal to redevelop at least part of the city block across the intersection from the Innovate site is entering the marketing phase for investors, said Albuquerque businessman and entrepreneur Vince DiGregory.

Packages are to be sent out next week to potential investors soliciting investments in the proposed redevelopment of the block, he said. The components of the project are a moving target, but will likely be heavier on residential rather than commercial uses.

“We want it to be synergistic with Innovate across the street,” DiGregory said. “We’ll get input from investors, from the city, from the University (of New Mexico).”

Referring to the 7.1-acre Innovate ABQ site at the northwest corner of Broadway and Central NE, the former First Baptist Church now owned by the UNM, DiGregory said, “We’ve always known something exciting was going to happen there.”

The style of the redevelopment at the southeast corner would be a fusion of the existing assortment of architectural styles in the area and “something that’s more forward looking,” said Jeremy Ortiz of Archis Design, who is involved in the proposal’s early planning.

It’s been almost 10 years since Vince and brothers Matt and Cris DiGregory opened the Standard Diner, one block east of Broadway at the corner of Arno and Central SE.

At this stage, DiGregory said unrelated investment entities headed by himself and longtime Albuquerque businessman Art Hayman own roughly half of the block bounded by Broadway to the west, Central to the north, Arno to the east and Gold to the south.

“We own different parcels, but we plan to redevelop it as a team,” DiGregory said.

Exceptions to their ownership are The Storehouse at 106 Broadway SE, a nonprofit food pantry, and a former church building next door, which are currently being marketed for sale at an asking price of $1.6 million by John Phillips and Clayton King of NAI Maestas & Ward.

DiGregory declined to say whether those two buildings would be part of his redevelopment proposal.

Commonly referred to a EDo, short for East Downtown, the area experienced a wave of urban renewal in the 2000s in the wake of the successful conversion of the original Albuquerque High into residences.

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