UNM students interested in starting and growing companies should have a new place to live, work and even play at Innovate ABQ in downtown Albuquerque by August 2017.

The University of New Mexico Board of Regents approved an agreement with a local development group to build a nearly 159,000 square foot, six-story building as Phase I of Innovate ABQ site at the northwest corner of Broadway Blvd. and Central Ave., downtown.

“This has been our vision from the start,” President Robert G. Frank said. “We’ve been working with our public and private partners to bring our students and researchers together with entrepreneurs and innovators in an inspired environment that can spur economic development and create jobs that benefit all of us.”

The building will be constructed just north of the existing structure known as the former First Baptist Church of Albuquerque.  The ground floor will house office space for the University’s technology transfer and economic development arm—STC.UNM, academic space for Innovation Academy, along with a Nusenda Credit Union branch, café and a small fitness center. The five upper floors of the building will hold 155 two-bedroom/two bath units. The living spaces will be marketed to Innovation Academy students and to UNM upper level undergraduate and graduate students.

The project will markedly increase the density of the neighborhood just east of downtown, a longtime goal of Albuquerque Mayor Richard J. Berry.

Innovate ABQ Board Chairman Terry Laudick, UNM President Robert Frank and Albuquerque Mayor R.J. Berry Announce new building for Innovate ABQ site.
Innovate ABQ Board Chair Terry Laudick, UNM President Bob Frank and Albuquerque Mayor R.J. Berry announce new building for Innovate ABQ site

“This extraordinary opportunity is a catalyst for our city, higher education and downtown, ” Berry said. “This project will help the revitalization of downtown Albuquerque by bringing UNM's Innovation Academy and student housing to the Innovate ABQ site. I want to thank President Frank and the regents for their leadership as we diversify opportunity in our local economy.” 

Total cost of the project is estimated to be $35 million. The development group, a partnership of Signet Development, Goodman Realty and Development, and Dekker/Perich/Sabatini, will be the landlord and the UNM Board of Regents will be listed as the tenant in a 30-year lease on the building. Innovate ABQ, Inc. will lease the land to the developer.

"This is another step in our journey to bring about greater economic opportunity for our community and the State of New Mexico,” said Terry Laudick, chairman of Innovate ABQ, Inc. Board of Directors. “With the University’s commitment to increasing access to their research and students through Innovate ABQ, more companies and entrepreneurs will soon congregate and collaborate at this hub of innovation.”

UNM will pay the operating expenses and maintenance. The initial rent cost to the university will be $1.8 million with escalation clauses at regular intervals. Rent in year 30 will be just over $3.3 million.

“This building will be the nucleus of Innovate ABQ in the same way that Innovate ABQ will be the nucleus of the larger innovation district in Albuquerque,” said Lisa Kuuttila, STC.UNM CEO and chief economic development officer. 

STC.UNM is the wholly-owned non-profit corporation that protects technologies developed by UNM faculty, staff and students and transferring those technologies to the market place, and connects the business community to UNM for access to expertise and research activities, and facilities UNM’s role as a contributor to New Mexico’s economic development. Innovation Academy is the UNM academic entity that assists students studying any subject to add business and entrepreneurial skills to their graduation credentials.