ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The heart of Nob Hill is getting some new blood.
A pair of the neighborhood’s high-profile retail storefronts are being rejuvenated, with chef Jennifer James moving her operation to the former Elsa Ross boutique and a local real estate company purchasing the old Kurt’s Camera Corral with plans for redevelopment.
James and partner Nelle Bauer will close Jennifer James 101 on April 21. The restaurant had been at 4615 Menaul NE since 2008.
The duo expect to relaunch in Nob Hill this summer with a new name and slightly new concept, James said.
She said they will divide the 3,000-square-foot space roughly in half. One side will feature a wine bar, while the other half will offer a full dining experience but something “more casual” than Jennifer James 101.
“We are working on a name change and kind of a little reinvention of what we’re going to be doing,” she said. “It will be the same style of clean, local food and great quality ingredients, but we’ll just kind of tweak it a little bit.”
Before starting on Menaul, James had been a partner in the now-closed Nob Hill restaurant Graze.
“I love the vibe and the businesses that are down there, so I’m pretty excited about (going back),” she said.
Elsa Ross had been at 3511 Central NE since 1989 but closed earlier this year, one in a growing list of retailers the neighborhood has recently lost. Some of those vacancies have been refilled by restaurants and breweries, and the area has blossomed into a highly popular nightlife destination. Matanza, a local “craft beer kitchen,” took the old Savvy boutique, while Bosque Brewery and Wise Pies Pizza & Salad share an old video store.
“People always joke everyone eats as entertainment in New Mexico, so I think (Jennifer James 101 will) be really successful there,” said NAI Maestas & Ward’s Nicosha Schedlbauer, who negotiated the property’s lease along with colleague Nicole Rhodes.
Coe & Peterson, the company that closed on the iconic Kurt’s building on March 21, said it is looking at a “multiple tenant situation” in the 7,500-square-foot space.
There’s already quite a bit of movement focused on the property, which is located in the heart of Nob Hill, according to a broker for the developer.
“We have one lease out with Frost Gelato, which is opening a second Albuquerque store,” said Teneé Swingle, the Coe & Peterson broker handling the leases at 3414 Central NE.
Coe & Peterson is also entertaining interest from restaurant and retail operators, but she was unable to disclose their names at this point.
She said restaurants with different concepts could potentially occupy several of the storefronts at the former photography supply and camera business, which closed in December of last year.
Tenant improvement money is available, but Swingle doesn’t envision any of the new leaseholders opening until late summer or early fall of this year.
“We’d like to create good synergy in the center,” said Swingle, adding that the development doesn’t have a placeholder name yet.
Coe & Peterson will break up the space into four or five storefronts comprising 1,000 to 3,500 square feet. An elevator will also be installed so customers can mingle on a new rooftop deck, said Swingle.