We at the Rio Grande Foundation have been quite critical of the powers that be when it comes to economic development in Albuquerque. While some projects like the streetcar, Winrock Mall, and the downtown arena/convention center (to name just a few projects) receive special treatment in the form of tax breaks and taxpayer subsidies, other projects (like the Scientologists’ proposed building downtown) are given the runaround.
Now, SunCal, a company that has been involved in the fights over TIDD’s, has experienced the wrath of an Albuquerque government that seems to not care about jobs or economic growth at a time in which both are at a real premium. The New Mexico Business Weekly has an interesting article about SunCal’s Heritage Marketplace project, a 12-building, 20-acre, mixed-use development at Ladera and Unser NW.
According to the article:
SunCal and said two anchors were lined up for the project as designed by SunCal. To make the changes the city requires, it will add 15 percent to 20 percent to the project’s construction costs.
City planners had a different vision. They wanted the plan to conform to the city’s design guidelines, which call for open plazas with pedestrian and bicycle amenities in new shopping center developments. Strip center development is viewed unfavorably. The commission saw a more urban project with less parking and didn’t want the center to face heavily trafficked Unser Boulevard. SunCal argued it couldn’t attract retailers if their stores didn’t face Unser. Unser is a state road, Route 435, and new turn lanes are an issue.
So, we have a company, SunCal, that is looking to invest millions of dollars (without demanding subsidies) by building a new commercial development in Albuquerque and the City says “thanks, but no thanks” because the development doesn’t fit the hopes and dreams of a few bureaucrats….don’t you just love government?