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UNM Economic Development Forum Hosts Innovate ABQ Presentation

Albuquerque, NM – March 11, 2015 The UNM Economic Development Forum (EDF), the university’s advisory group created by the STC Board of Directors to provide input and guidance to STC on economic development, met on Tuesday to hear a presentation from Innovate ABQ master planners Perkins + Will. EDF, hosted by STC and comprised of more than 150 members from the business, government and university communities, meets every month to hear presentations on economic development activities by members and others in the community. The meetings are opportunities for information sharing and networking.

Deputy Chair, Joseph Cecchi, Dean of the School of Engineering, began the meeting by introducing David Green and Kevin Bacon, Perkins + Will lead planners for Innovate ABQ.

“Yesterday was a monumental day for the University of New Mexico,” said Dr. Cecchi. “The final development framework plan for Innovate ABQ was presented and approved by the Regents at the Board of Regents meeting Monday morning, making it possible for the Innovate ABQ board to move forward with the RFP process. The Regents acknowledged and thanked STC for its role in facilitating the planning process and supporting the Innovate ABQ board in moving the project forward.”

Mr. Green explained that the development framework document should be viewed as a flexible approach to development that allows for the Rainforest model of creating innovation ecosystems to work.

“Opportunities for both innovation and development can emerge organically, respond to change over time, capitalize on the resources of the region, and ultimately become a place where innovation will thrive. We want to, as Victor Hwang, Rainforest theorist, says, ‘design and shape the proper environment that cultivates innovation’. The document is still rich in detailed scenarios to attract developers, help in the development process and demonstrate that there are lots of ways to shape the project. This approach gives us many tools to work with, significantly reduces development risks and provides transparency.”

“Innovate ABQ will be a physical and economic connector between the city and university, reflecting many models in other cities across the U.S. that are taking advantage of the rich IP assets of universities to create and attract companies and jobs. The Central Avenue corridor development that Innovate ABQ represents will be the core of the new innovation district that will catalyze economic development for the city, county, region and state.”

STC CEO Lisa Kuuttila thanked members present who have contributed to the Innovate ABQ process, including Innovate ABQ board chair Terry Laudick, city economic development director Gary Oppedahl, UNM associate VP for planning & budget Andrew Cullen, and MRCOG economic development program manager Ann Simon.

“STC will continue its core mission of commercializing university technology and spinning off new companies. Innovate ABQ will create a centralized home for the many entrepreneurs and start-ups spread out over the city, attracting even more of this activity. It will also support the development of UNM’s Innovation Academy in educating more entrepreneurial students who will be a part of growing an innovation economy.”

Next steps for the Innovate ABQ board will be sending out requests for proposals to developers within the next few months. To view the Perkins + Will PowerPoint presentation to the Regents go to https://stc.unm.edu/econdev/innovateabq.php.

To read more, see Kevin Robinson-Avila’s March 9 article, “UNM regents ok master plan for Innovate ABQ,” from the Albuquerque Journal, reprinted below, (http://www.abqjournal.com/552249/abqnewsseeker/unm-regents-ok-master-plan-for-innovate-abq.html), Karen Wentworth’s March 11 article, “UNM regents approve development framework for Innovate ABQ,” reprinted below, (http://news.unm.edu/news/unm-regents-approve-development-framework-for-innovate-abq), and Dan Mayfield’s March 9 article, “UNM Regents make major decision on Innovate ABQ’s future,” from Albuquerque Business First, at http://www.bizjournals.com/albuquerque/blog/bizventures/2015/03/unm-regents-make-major-decision-on-innovate-abqs.html.

UNM regents ok master plan for Innovate ABQ

The University of New Mexico Board of Regents unanimously approved a master plan Monday morning for the 7 acre Innovate ABQ site at Central Ave. and Broadway Boulevard Downtown.

Perkins & Will, the design firm that created the master plan, presented its general framework for development of the site to regents, accompanied by members of the Innovate ABQ board of directors. The plan envisions a mixture of research and laboratory facilities, business offices, administrative space, residential housing for students and others, and possibly a hotel and retail shops.

The site would be developed in phases over 10 to 20 years at a cost of between $50 and $150 million, said David Green, the Perkins & Will principal leading the project. Between 60 and 80 percent of the development costs would be private investment by developers. The rest would be largely investments by the city and county in infrastructure in and around the site as part of the innovation district that UNM and the city, county and business community expect to build up along Central from Downtown to the university campus.

The Innovate ABQ board released a request in January for private developers to express interest in leading the project.

“We’ve gotten a number of responses from highly qualified developers, both locally and nationally, some of whom are proposing to work together,” Terry Laudick, Nusenda Credit Union CEO and chair of the Innovate ABQ board, told regents. “The next step is to engage an independent third party to review the expressions of interest and develop a framework for a formal request for proposals, which will issue by late April.”

UNM regents approve development framework for Innovate ABQ

In a Facebook world of instant gratification it may seem slow. In a real world of bureaucracy and public money, Innovate ABQ is growing like a rainforest in the desert.

The Board of Regents for the University of New Mexico has formally approved a development framework for a seven-acre plot of land on the northwest corner of Central Ave. and Broadway NE.

The board of Innovate ABQ now begins the process of finding private developers with a similar vision. The site will be reshaped into an area that is denser, more walkable, welcoming to students and other small business entrepreneurs and a throbbing pulse of economic development activity for the city of Albuquerque.

The regents endorsed the possibilities. Now the reality will shape and reshape itself as the City of Albuquerque slowly alters the physical surroundings of the neighborhood with a new transportation plan, changes to make the spaces between Innovate ABQ and downtown much more pedestrian friendly, and private developers enter the picture.

The change in the surrounding neighborhood is already in progress as local developers and entrepreneurs move into the area. The vision is to reshape Central Ave. between UNM and Downtown.

A Powerpoint presentation was given to the Board of Regents during its regular meeting Monday.

The development framework is a platform that will allow organisms to thrive, says Perkins + Will Urban Design Leader David Green. “This takes advantage of the embedded values of the university and moves outward.”

Terry Laudick, the president of the Innovate ABQ board said a request for information has drawn interest from both local and national development firms and that a more formal request for proposal will probably be issued in late April. Laudick says release of the framework documents will “remove the veil of ambiguity from the project.”

The project has already been through a master planning process led by the firm of Perkins + Will. The development framework show initial plans for the property itself, and also for the surrounding community.

Dale Dekker, Founding Principal/Architect of Dekker, Perich, Sabatini, said, “This has been a massive amount of work and it is going to bear great fruit in the 21st century in Albuquerque.” He noted that it is in alignment with the 2010 sector development plan for the city.

The proposal will divide the property into four segments and allow Copper Ave. and Union Square St. to be extended through it. It will retain current buildings at the corner of Central and Broadway that remain from the time the property was owned by the First Baptist Church.

Innovate ABQ is set up as a New Mexico non-profit university research park corporation by the UNM Board of Regents. The project has financial participation from the City of Albuquerque, Nusenda Credit Union (formerly New Mexico Educators Federal Credit Union), the County of Bernalillo and the University of New Mexico. The board, made up of representatives of the contributing entities and local business people, will make policy decisions for the property.

STC.UNM, UNM’s technology transfer and economic-development organization and a non-profit corporation owned by the UNM Board of Regents, has led the economic development activity since it was initiated by UNM president Robert Frank in July 2012, but it is turning further development of the site over to the new Innovate ABQ board.

STC.UNM, led by CEO and Economic Development Officer Lisa Kuuttila will continue to focus on its primary mission of commercializing intellectual property of faculty, staff and students at UNM and leading the economic development efforts on behalf of the university.

Everyone involved with the project hopes that Innovate ABQ will become a nucleus of new life for the downtown-university corridor, foster economic growth, research and innovation.

Innovate ABQ Timeline

    • Summer 2012 – UNM hosts an economic development summit to talk about economic development as a priority of the university.
    • Summer 2013 – UNM and City of Albuquerque representatives visit University of Florida in Gainesville, Fla. to look at Innovation Square as a possible model for Albuquerque.
    • Summer 2014 – UNM purchases seven acres of land and buildings at the corner of Central Ave. and Broadway NE owned by the First Baptist Church with financial contributions from Nusenda, the City of Albuquerque, STC, through a federal economic development grant and the university. Additional funds for development came from the County of Bernalillo.
    • Fall 2014 – Planning for the site begins
    • Winter 2014-15 – Innovate ABQ is organized into a non-profit corporation and a board is appointed.
    • Spring 2015 – Development framework for Innovate ABQ is approved by the UNM Board of Regents.
    • Spring 2015 – RFP for initial development of the site will be released.

Source: STC.UNM

For more information, contact:

Denise Bissell