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Editorial: Public, private efforts behind make-a-difference projects

FOR THE RECORD: The spelling of the name of architectural firm Dekker/Perich/Sabatini has been corrected in this editorial.

It’s great to see the ball start rolling on three ambitious projects that could help revitalize the city core and make Downtown a center for innovation and technology.

UNM President Bob Frank and Mayor Richard Berry recently announced the start of work this summer on the first building of the Innovate ABQ research and development park on a seven-acre site at Central and Broadway. The 160,000-square-foot $35 million building is expected to open by August 2017.

Innovate ABQ is planned to be center for high tech and idea development in conjunction with University of New Mexico programs and include five floors of student housing. It is a project of UNM, the city of Albuquerque, Bernalillo County and private partners.

Private development partners Signet Development of Ohio, New Mexico’s Goodman Realty Group and Dekker/Perich/Sabatini will pay for, plan and construct the building. UNM will then lease it for 30 years and take over maintenance and operations.

In taking on the long-term responsibility UNM is walking the tech transfer talk. And that means it is assuming potential for reward – and risk.

But Innovate ABQ is just part of an effort to foster high tech companies, create high paying jobs and drive economic development particularly along the Central corridor.

Included in that effort is the $119 million Albuquerque Rapid Transit project. Opponents of ART have filed two lawsuits, which is their right. However, it would indeed be sad if the legal action delays or kills the project, which has the potential to give the city’s Main Street a badly needed economic shot in the arm over time.

Also moving forward are plans for the University of New Mexico Hospital’s proposed new acute care teaching hospital. UNMH officials announced Monday they had awarded a $1.5 million contract to two firms to plan and design the $600 million project.

Though hurdles still exist, the new hospital is sorely needed to reduce emergency room wait times, treat an expected surge in senior patients and allow UNMH to accept more patients from other hospitals.

These large development projects that have been in the planning stages for several years should create a large number of construction jobs in the near term and have the potential to help revitalize the city’s core.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.