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Sunday, December 21, 2014

South campus project inches on

UNM hires consulting firms for area development

news@dailylobo.com
@ArdeetheJourno

As the fall semester begins, UNM continues to push for more commercial spaces on south campus.

At a Board of Directors of Lobo Development meeting held Friday morning, Amy Coburn, director of design and development for the Lobo Development Corporation, said UNM has hired Dekker/Perich/Sabatini, Bohannan Huston, Inc. and X8eVinyard Geotechnical Engineering as design consultants for future projects. She said these three firms “are very high quality and high performing.”

Coburn said the University will work with the firms to establish design standards for commercial spaces.

“Along with their development on their side, we’re supporting development in there with design standards and guidelines that will form the physical standards with state development projects,” she said.

The meeting lasted for less than 10 minutes before moving to a closed session.

Last year, UNM secured three lots near south campus for commercial development. These include a 4.3-acre lot and a 1-acre lot near Avenida Cesar Chavez, which could become a site for restaurants and coffee shops, and a 45-acre lot between Gibson and the baseball field, which could become a site for a shopping center.

In December of last year, the Board of Regents’ Finance and Facilities Committee approved the South Campus Master Development Agreement. Under this agreement, UNM’s Lobo Development Corporation will work with Fairmount Properties to develop the proposed sites.

Fairmount Properties, an Ohio-based planning firm that also worked with the University in the construction of Lobo Village, estimated the projects’ cost to be $50 million. This would come from investments by businesses in the area.

Coburn said Lobo Development Corporation has been working smoothly with Fairmount Properties for months now. But she said they are still in the process of securing tenants for the projected commercial spaces.

Coburn said they have had conversations with the mayor’s office and have earned support from city officials. She said the south campus developments also received positive reactions from surrounding communities.

“We have continued to work with the Clayton Heights Lomas del Cielo Association in July,” she said. “They’re very excited to hear that we are moving forward. We are very lucky to have several supportive persons in here.”

In the future, Coburn said her office and Fairmount Properties are planning to hold a “multi-neighborhood presentation” to inform other neighborhood associations about the potential commercial projects.

University Communication Representative Karen Wentworth said the commercial developments’ final plan must still be approved by UNM’s Board of Regents before construction could begin. She said conversations could take “about a year” before any plan could be finalized.