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City Announces Grand Opening of Zocalo Lofts Multi-Use Project

Redevelopment transforms entrance to Barelas neighborhood, supports small businesses

Dec. 4, 2020

Mayor Tim Keller joined the City’s Metropolitan Redevelopment Agency project architects, and local developers to mark the official grand opening of the highly-anticipated mixed-use Zocalo Lofts project at 4th Street and Coal Avenue. The redeveloped property is transforming the primary entrance to the Barelas district, one of the City’s core historic neighborhoods and a gateway to the historic Route 66. Zocalo creates a new and vibrant link between the neighborhood south of downtown and adjacent urban activity.

The $7 million public-private project is comprised of 21 market rate apartments and 9,300 square feet of commercial space in a multi-level three-building complex. Residences are almost fully leased. The Barelas Community Coalition (BCC) moved its headquarters, MainStreet program office, and La Esquinita small business incubator from the Hispano Chamber to occupy the bulk of the block at ground level. La Esquinita provides wraparound business services and coaching to entrepreneurs working primarily in creative industries, including cuisine and crafts.

“This project is the next step in a broad reinvestment in Albuquerque’s core, including major flood control and transportation infrastructure projects, big private sector construction projects, and the Railyards redevelopment,” said Mayor Tim Keller. “Zocalo is another public-private collaboration that creates jobs, supports Albuquerque’s small businesses, fosters economic inclusion, provides new homes, and establishes a healthy, safe space for people from across our city to gather.”

The City’s Metropolitan Redevelopment Agency (MRA), whose mission is to revitalize downtown by leading collaborative public-private partnerships that result in equitable catalytic change, partnered with Santa Fe based Zydeco 66 on creating an entrance to the historic Barelas neighborhood. Zocalo is one of nine redevelopment projects in the 2020 MRA pipeline, totaling $116 million of total investment.

Alex Espinosa, who is a co-owner of Novel Point Coffee and operates out of the La Esquinita section of the development, says people who stop in his shop are excited to see the building come to life in the Barelas neighborhood. “It’s a beautiful space that brings energy and vibrancy to the area,” he said. “Barelas has deep roots in Albuquerque, and this building will allow younger generations to experience the community, take in the great downtown scenery, and visit the businesses located here.”

The Barelas Community Coalition has also been an active partner in the project, which it envisioned to serve as an economic engine and social hub for the Barelas community. Though construction was completed in late 2019, the BCC has been careful to phase in activity and build-out on site due to a host of uncertainties caused by the pandemic, said executive director Cristina M. Rogers. To date, the project has facilitated an indoor-outdoor Farm Stand & Market that accommodates social distancing and air flow via rolling garage doors, the city’s first permanent food truck lot, and an outlet for Community Supported Agriculture programs. Cabana-like shade structures are set to be constructed this month.

“This project helps lower the barrier to entry for underserved entrepreneurs, specifically focusing on historically marginalized groups,” Rogers said. “And it’s a site the creates spontaneous combustion of activity. It’s right where historic Barelas meets downtown’s energy. It’s literally on the line of that.”

According to Rogers, a dilapidated house occupied the site before redevelopment. The MRA provided the land, $150,000 for public infrastructure, and most recently, a grant to on-site food trucks through its Outdoor Dining Grant Program to support food vendors during the pandemic.

Zocalo Lofts is the result of collaboration between the City of Albuquerque Metropolitan Redevelopment Agency; the BCC; general contractor Insight Construction and architecture firm The Hartman + Majewski Design Group, both based in Albuquerque; and Zydeco 66.