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New project bringing Freddy’s to UNM area

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Add steakburgers to the menu choices cropping up near the University of New Mexico.

Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers will join a redevelopment project planned for a site directly across the street from the campus.

Mark Tekin of Tekin & Associates said he is redeveloping the old Valero gas station at Central and Columbia SE with a new 6,000-square-foot, two-tenant retail building. Freddy’s will take a little more than half, Tekin said. A T-Mobile store will occupy the rest.

Tekin — whose most recent local project was razing the old Shoes on a Shoestring near Cottonwood Mall for a Texas Roadhouse — said he had little trouble finding a restaurant to sign on for the site, which he’s calling Shops @ UNM. He cited the heavy daytime population and the strong evening traffic from the Nob Hill area and surrounding neighborhoods.

“Our leasing went pretty quick. Definitely it’s an under-served area,” he said. “We had quite a bit of interest. The competition for the restaurant space was pretty fierce.”

Franchisee Ken Brock brought Freddy’s to Albuquerque in 2013 and now has five open around the state. UNM is one of three more he expects to open this year. His Coors/Central location just broke ground, and construction on a Gallup restaurant should start in a month.

Brock said he jumped at the chance to open one near UNM, an area where he says opportunities rarely arise.

“It’s busy all the time (in the UNM area). It’s changed from when I went to school there 100 years ago,” he said. “It didn’t have the overall appeal. Now it appeals to more than just students; people go down there and spend the evening or the afternoon, the weekends.”

Freddy’s will forego its standard drive-through near UNM but will have a walk-up window and a larger-than-usual patio. Brock said it will be one of just a handful of the nearly 200 Freddy’s without a drive-through.

Last week, John Sedberry of Sedberry and Associates revealed plans for his own redevelopment project on the neighboring parcel. He and partner Jay Rembe of Rembe Urban Design will transform the old Denny’s into space for a Chipotle, Jersey Mike’s Subs and Verizon retailer.

Like that project, Shops @ UNM will feature on-site parking.

Tekin said crews are removing gas tanks this week at the site. Ensuring the property is clean and ready for development will take about a month. He expects to begin teardown of the existing structure and new construction this summer. Brock said he aims to open Freddy’s by early fall.