Land on south campus is ready for business.
After one-and-a-half years* of deliberation, on March 11 the UNM Board of Regents approved a 74-year lease of land near The Pit. The agreement is between the University and Ohio-based company, Fairmount Properties LLC.
The approval was for a form of ground lease*, according to the Master Development Agreement negotiated by the Lobo Development Corporation and Fairmount.
The approved ground lease form is the second in a series of steps to bring restaurants and shops to the area near The Pit, and so far only the developer has been named. When Fairmount finds businesses for the area, it will have to submit them to the regents for approval, UNM Director of Communications Dianne Anderson said.
Regent Conrad James said developing space for businesses will benefit the University financially while giving residents and visitors more retail and dining options in the area.
“All of the regents are in agreement about having a balance of restaurants, retail and coffee shops, with national and local businesses,” James said.
UNM officials said that based on a preliminary estimate, the development is expected make the University a profit of about $1.5 million to $2 million annually once completed, according to the Albuquerque Journal.
Business major Robert Martens said that if it were up to him, he would put a New Mexican-style grill and cantina with a sports bar twist for spectators to go for a drink after hosted events at The Pit.
“That’s mostly all I want down there, anything other than Lobo (souvenir) shops, we have too many Lobo shops. Any food and alcohol places are what it would need,” Martens said.
There are two Lobo souvenir shops in the area, including the University’s own Lobo Store at The Pit.
Savannah Padilla, an elementary education major, agrees that there should be more New Mexican restaurants brought to the area such as local favorite Sadie’s, and more local retail shops, she said.
“Maybe a lot of the shops they have in Santa Fe, like jewelry that local people make,” Padilla said.
Though students are interested in seeing more culture in the area, some would also like to see popular restaurants they’ve heard of or tried elsewhere that are not in the area.
“An In-and-Out Burger or a Dave and Buster’s, I’d vote for that,” said Keenan Lucero, a mechanical engineer major.
Fairmount will develop three parcels of land: the west corner of Lobo Village; the area south of The Pit; and the area within the perimeter of I-25, Gibson and University boulevards.
The parcel within I-25 and Gibson and University boulevards is slated to be developed first, according to the Master Development Agreement. Although Fairmount is not required to develop the first two plots yet, it will still pay $1,000 a month for each of them and will still hold exclusive rights over those two plots.
Fairmount was given 20 days following the March 11 meeting to submit its preliminary notification, in which the company will work out with UNM the price of the land lease once it is developed, James said. The lease agreement will be based on market value of the land and other values.
Fairmount will then be given a year to submit preliminary materials for the shopping center component to the regents for approval. James said this means a list of potential business ideas will be brought to the regents for discussion.
At this unscheduled future meeting, members of the community will have an opportunity to raise any concerns they have about the development, James said.
In early January 2013*, Forest City Real Estate along with the Lobo Development Corporation conducted interviews with four pre-qualified development firms.
Among the four was Fairmount, which “was selected as the developer for the commercial, mixed-use project based upon their extensive experience with other university projects around the country,” said David Harris, president of the LDC, in a memo to the Regents.
Most of the University, mixed-use and residential developments that Fairmount lists on its website are in Ohio. Fairmount has already helped develop and re-construct six colleges throughout Ohio. Fairmount is also working with the University of Rochester in New York, the only project listed on its website outside Ohio besides UNM.
Fairmount, founded in 1998, is headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio and the majority of its projects are located within college- and university-based communities. According to Fairmount’s website, the company works primarily within the context of public or private partnerships, working with municipalities, colleges and universities to create these types of developments.
_Editor’s note: Asterisks mark corrections made to the article after it was printed. The Lobo Development Corporation has been working on the South Campus land project for one-and-a-half years, not six years. The approval was for a “form of ground lease,” not a “release form.” Lastly, Fairmount Properties was selected as the developer by the University in January 2012, not January 2013.
The errors were made in reporting._