Over the past year and a half, we have seen some exciting activity around the Innovate ABQ project.
Located on a seven-acre site, the goal of the project is to develop an innovation district in downtown Albuquerque to foster economic development and job creation in New Mexico.
The grand opening of the Lobo Rainforest Building in 2017 was one of the first buildings to take shape on the site. The Lobo Rainforest Building houses 310 UNM students in 155 residencies and the ground floor holds offices for tenants including startups, UNM Rainforest Innovations, Innovation Academy, Sandia National Laboratories’ Center for Collaboration and Commercialization, Nusenda Credit Union, and café space. The second building on the site, called the CNM FUSE MakerSpace, opened in 2016 and provides entrepreneurs, small businesses, students and hobbyists access to high-tech machinery and computer software to design and prototype new products, create artistic works or pursue their hobbies.
In July 2020, we saw some new activity, including the transfer of Innovate ABQ over to UNM. Currently, UNM’s real estate entity Lobo Development Corp. and UNM Rainforest Innovations jointly oversee the project. In late 2020, a new advisory board was formed and soon after the original master plan, developed by Perkins+Will in 2013, was also revamped. Although the plan was still valid, it could not foresee the changes in our economy and region over the past eight years. Therefore, they re-vamped the plan and unveiled it during a UNM Rainforest Forum. Plans for the project include up to five new buildings with flexibility and adaptability in mind.
Additionally, the University of New Mexico is working on a partnership with California-based development firm HatchSpaces, LLC to design and build a bioscience lab in the old First Baptist Church’s parochial school. The company has a track record of creating state-of-the-art lab facilities for science communities in California with a “build it and they will stay” mentality. They work to help regions retain early-stage science and biotechnology startups emerging from research environments. The First Baptist Church sits adjacent to the Lobo Rainforest Building and the west side of the building and office tower would offer wet labs and office space for startups.
Stay tuned to learn about new developments and check out the Innovate ABQ website to learn more about the project: https://www.innovateabq.com/