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More development on tap for Central corridor between Old Town, Downtown

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A new 5,000-square-foot restaurant/retail building is planned for what is now an empty lot near 14th and Central NW. At top, the lot is shown in its current state. Below, it\’s shown with a rendering of the proposed building. (Courtesy of Jim Hakeem)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A steady swell of activity is slowly changing the face of Central Avenue between Old Town and Downtown, and now another property owner is joining the wave.

Owners of a vacant lot near 14th and Central NW have plans to build a new 5,000-square-foot building for future use by restaurant and retail tenants.

Jim Hakeem of NAI Maestas & Ward, a commercial real estate broker spearheading the leasing effort, said the area’s increasing vibrancy prompted the property’s longtime ownership to consider development. The Matteucci family of Albuquerque owns the plot and a few surrounding buildings, including the neighboring restaurant recently opened as Cafe Laurel.

“They just said, ‘Let’s do something with (this land),'” Hakeem said. “It’s not for sale; they’re going to go ahead and do their own development.”

Current plans call for a 5,000-square-foot building with a patio that could be shared with Cafe Laurel. Hakeem said the idea is to lease at least half to a restaurant, coffee shop, taproom or similar business and make the rest available for retail usage, though the ultimate composition could vary depending on demand.

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Hakeem only recently started marketing the development and has no signed leases in place but said there has been early interest. He anticipates construction starting early next year.

That stretch of Central has seen a few notable projects in recent years. Jay Rembe’s Country Club Plaza already has yielded a 5 Star Burgers and Draft Station taproom, and construction continues on its next element: a three-story building with ground level retail space topped with two floors of “urban apartments.” Rembe has said he expects residents and commercial tenants to start moving in by the first quarter of 2016.

The Aveda Institute and Vinaigrette also laid down roots in the area in the last few years, joining area stalwarts like Duran Central Pharmacy and Garcia’s Kitchen. Garcia’s is working on a new food production/warehouse facility behind its existing restaurant.

Hakeem said the new Mateucci project should contribute to the area’s walkability.

It’s “trying to capture that pedestrian traffic giving people the opportunity to walk up and down Central (in the area), where if they’re going to Old Town or Downtown, (they can) stop in and grab a cup of coffee or beer or whatever,” he said.


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