UNM’s Real Estate Department is conducting due diligence activities as a proposed deal to purchase a seven acre site now occupied by buildings owned by the First Baptist Church progresses. Currently surveys of asbestos and the mechanical systems of the buildings are underway.
In addition, UNM is working with the New Mexico Environment Department and the Burlington Northern Railroad on an agreement that UNM will not be liable for any problems caused by hazardous waste contamination of water and soil beneath the property. The railroad has accepted responsibility for a historic spill of hazardous waste.
“If all goes well, we hope to have the transaction complete by April," UNM Chief Economic Development Officer Lisa Kuuttila said. "Once that happens, UNM will begin work with Perkins & Wills and Dekker/Perich/Sabatini on a master plan for the property and for the area surrounding the property. This will be done in collaboration with the surrounding neighborhoods.”
Kuuttila says UNM hopes to work with a private developer to build a dormitory project for students who are interested in building startup companies on the First Baptist Property. She says it will also take strong private participation to build restaurants and other amenities for students and the community as more commercial activity comes into the area. UNM envisions the project as a physical center where students will find support to begin building their own companies. The property is west of UNM on Central Ave. at Broadway.
City of Albuquerque voters approved $2 million for the Innovate ABQ concept. That money, combined with $3 million from the New Mexico Educators Credit Union, a $1.5 million grant from the Economic Development Administration in the U.S. Department of Commerce and another $700,000 from the UNM Regents Endowment Fund, will allow purchase of the property and will cover initial master planning costs. Bernalillo County is also in the process of committing $1 million to the project.
Kuuttila is currently working with all parties on a governance structure that will allow the participants to jointly plan and operate the project.