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City Releases List of Finalist Gateway Center Sites

Top 3 sites identified based on public input, voices of homeless, proximity to services, lot size and availability, project cost, and time to complete

February 27, 2020

Last fall, Albuquerque voters stepped up to support the building of a first-ever, 24/7, low-barrier Gateway Center to help homeless people move into permanent housing and connect them to services. The City took another step toward making that a reality today, releasing the top three potential locations. Sites ranked in the top tier include an empty lot owned by UNM near I-25 and Camino de Salud west of University Avenue, the former Lovelace Hospital on Gibson, and Coronado Park near 3rdSt and I-40. The administration will also examine the possibility that some combination of the sites in the top tier may best serve the community’s needs.

Mayor Tim Keller said, “Our community needs the services the Gateway Center will provide, both for people experiencing homelessness and relief for all of the neighborhoods that are impacted by homelessness. Out of over one hundred sites, this thoughtful and transparent process identified three sites that meet the needs of the homeless population and are feasible in the short-term. As we face these challenges, it’s important to separate fear from facts. People experiencing homelessness are a part of our community and they desperately need services of many types. Right now there is a moral opportunity to come together as a community and a shared responsibility to create a center that will help these folks connect with housing and services.”

A jpg of the Gateway Center Ranking Graphic.

149 potential sites were identified, some from the City’s initial list and many more that were added through the public input process. 74 sites that were not specific enough to map (e.g., “downtown,” “not downtown”) were eliminated from consideration first. 45 sites that were voted for fewer than five times in the public input process were eliminated next. The remaining 30 sites were scored based on ownership of the location, lot size, zoning, acquisition cost, access to transportation, and proximity to services. 

Five sites met most of the criteria: Coronado Park, the former Lovelace Hospital on Gibson, an empty lot near UNM Health Sciences Center south of the State Laboratory near I-25 and Lomas, the Crowne Plaza Hotel, and Vulcan Materials (NW of the Big I interchange). Crowne Plaza and Vulcan Materials would both exceed the existing budget in cost of acquisition and construction—for Crowne Plaza the acquisition cost alone would exceed the budget, leaving three remaining feasible options.

Out of the three finalists, the UNM-owned site near Lomas and I-25 had the highest point total in the scoring against all criteria. The empty lot is a large site, close to critical services and transportation, and with UNM’s agreement it can be built quickly enough to match the urgency of the challenge while still coming in below the $14 million Phase I budget. Coronado Park scored 12 out of 18, and Lovelace scored 11 out of 18, but beat out higher-scoring sites due to lot size, cost, proximity to services, and availability for development.

The complete report, with scores for each site and a detailed breakdown of each feasibility screen, is available online at: www.cabq.gov/family/documents/gateway-center-analysis-of-public-input-on-location-preferences-02272020.pdf/

Tomorrow at 9:30 a.m., Mayor Tim Keller and community leaders will come together to discuss the Gateway Center, including the potential locations, at the UNM-owned site just south of the Office of the Medical Investigator, at 1101 Camino de Salud. The site can be accessed from the north bound frontage road to I-25.