STC.UNM, the University of New Mexico tech transfer and economic development organization, closed today on the property at Central and Broadway in downtown Albuquerque that will be the physical site for Innovate ABQ. 

“It’s really encouraging that this project has gone from an idea to a land purchase in only 18 months. It speaks to the power of partnerships and what we can do when the public and private sectors work together in an effort to benefit all,” said UNM President Robert Frank.

STC.UNM CEO Lisa Kuuttila, whose team worked with UNM administration to facilitate the purchase of the site, echoed Frank’s enthusiasm: “For the last 18 months we have worked hard within UNM and with our community partners to capitalize on the talent, ideas and knowledge that New Mexico has in abundance to expand our innovation economy.  Innovate ABQ has reached its first major milestone with the purchase of the Central and Broadway site. We look forward to the master planning phase over the next three to four months as we continue to engage with our partners and stakeholders in creating an innovation community that will benefit all New Mexicans.”

Innovate ABQ is an ambitious effort the university has launched under the guidance of President Frank. The long term goal of the project is to create an innovation ecosystem in downtown Albuquerque. The seven-acre site will be the heart of a larger innovation district. Upon closing, master planning for the site will commence. Perkins+Will and Dekker/Perich/Sabatini, the master planning team for Innovate ABQ, will develop design guidelines as they consult with members of the community for their input on desirable elements for the project.

On Monday, the UNM Board of Regents approved a $2 million loan from the UNM Foundation’s Regents Endowment to complete the purchase. The loan was necessary to secure the property while the final details of the University’s MOU with the City are worked out, at which time the already voter-approved $2 million funding that the City has set aside for the project will be received by UNM to repay the short-term loan. The MOU is the governance document that details the administrative and development responsibilities of the partners. 

In addition to the City’s $2 million, money to purchase the land has come from the New Mexico Educators Federal Credit Union ($3 million), the County of Bernalillo ($1 million), the U.S. Economic Development Administration ($1.5 million) and the Regents ($800,000 for closing and master planning costs).