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Fate of Winrock in New Hands

By Susan Stiger
Journal Staff Writer
    Perhaps only in Albuquerque would 83 acres of prime, inner-city real estate sit nearly empty for five years. But the bustle is about to begin.
    Goodman Realty Group, hired in March as leasing agent for Winrock Center, has purchased the property from longtime owner PruWinrock LLC of New Jersey. Gary Goodman, president, would not disclose the price. He is majority owner, with Michael Kelly, president of mortgage and investment company Q10, a partner in charge of redevelopment. They have formed GK Partners LLC to handle the project.
    "Right now, it's a vacant black eye to the area," Goodman said. "We want to create a national buzz to rival anything in the region and be talked about around the country."
    Buzz doesn't come cheap, but Goodman said Kelly is in charge of financing.
    "Mike Kelly can get things funded better than anybody in the state," he said.
    His optimistic time frame is to be up and running by mid 2009. "But lots of things would have to line up just right," he said.
    He's not sure they'll retain the name Winrock. "It's an open question, but we like the name, it's part of Albuquerque history."
    He and Kelly are in the earliest stages, talking with architects and designers, negotiating with some stores, looking at how to best complement Uptown's existing offerings. Uptown includes Winrock, bordered by Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Indian School and Interstate 40; ABQ Uptown just north across Indian School, facing Louisiana; and Coronado Center, bordered by Menaul, San Pedro and Louisiana.
    Mixed use, as envisioned in an earlier Winrock plan, is the best way to balance all that retail, Goodman said.
    On the wish list that hundreds of millions of dollars are expected to make possible are local and national retail and restaurants, high-rise residential towers, offices, community space, movies, live entertainment and a hotel to hold out-of-town and out-of-state consumers. The building that housed Winrock Inn would be demolished and the mall itself would undergo some reconstruction.
    That's a lot of traffic and congestion, so Goodman is promising a strong environmental focus, including solar use, a pedestrian-friendly design and electric transportation, such as a trolley, to connect the development to ABQ Uptown and Coronado Center. In keeping with the city's Uptown Sector Plan, garage space off the Interstate loop road could handle parking for all three areas, he said.
    Goodman hopes to bring in some large retailers not seen in the city before. The site's ample space and existing retail traffic may help draw big names. He would not disclose those he's in negotiations with or hopes to attract. An unscientific Journal reader poll in April revealed consumer tastes leaning toward Crate & Barrel, Nordstrom, Sephora, Restoration Hardware and the Container Store.
    Dillard's, one of only three businesses still operating at Winrock, would remain the anchor tenant, he said. The others are the Sports Authority and Bed, Bath & Beyond. Winrock's second floor businesses departed in 2002 in advance of a redevelopment plan tanked by problems with easements and road plans and soaring construction costs. Borders remained until its space was available at ABQ Uptown. The first priority, Goodman said, is to make sure the remaining businesses are in the best shape possible for holiday shopping.
    Entertainment is high on the list of necessities.
    "We'd like to develop a plaza or city center— a community space, with a feeling of Albuquerque about it," he said. "We want both movies and live entertainment, maybe an outdoor concert shell. Wouldn't that be great?"
    Whatever emerges, Goodman doesn't want it to look as if it could be at home in Portland, Ore.; Ames, Iowa; or Baltimore, Md.
    "We want to create a sense of place," he said. "We want the culture here. We'll examine the needs of the city— I don't know if it's a new library or an educational facility."
    Winrock, once the largest shopping center between Dallas and Los Angeles, opened in 1961 as an open-air market and was enclosed in 1975, in keeping with retail trends. That trend has reversed. Nationwide, enclosed malls are slowly dying, being replaced with lifestyle centers encompassing work, dining, entertainment, shopping and fresh air.
    Goodman Realty Group has developed One Sun Plaza in Journal Center, Montgomery Plaza at San Mateo and Montgomery, Rio Bravo Center at Coors and Rio Bravo SW and La Posada de Albuquerque, the historic hotel at 125 Second NW Downtown.