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Thursday, November 27, 2014

Downtown campus plan in progress

After 18 months of planning, the grand vision of Innovate ABQ is coming into focus.

The design firm Perkins and Will publicly presented its initial master plan for Innovate ABQ to the Board of Regents on Aug 8, explaining the different possibilities for the future of the venture. Although because plans just got underway, specific details are still being worked out.

Lisa Kuuttila, CEO of STC.UNM, has been heavily involved with the project and said unveiling the master plan marks a pivotal moment for Innovate ABQ.

“This is a very interesting process and we’re very excited to kick this off,” Kuuttila said. “This marks a critical step forward taken with a critical mindset.”

Andrew Cullen, associate vice president of planning, budget and analysis, said the planning process is expected to be finished and presented to the Board of Regents for approval by December.

In the week before their presentation, representatives from Perkins and Will met with several groups — including ASUNM, GPSA, the Dean’s council and neighborhood organizations — to discuss the plans, Cullen said

“We’re very excited about the prospect of moving forward with the master plan,” he said. “We had an excellent reception from all of our constituent groups.”

Innovate ABQ’s main campus will include office space that will be available for high-tech industries, research firms and similar companies, Cullen said.

The main campus will be located on the northeast corner of First Street and Broadway Boulevard, where the First Baptist Church is currently located, but Innovate ABQ will also include a research district, which will extend along Central Avenue and Broadway, he said.

Innovate ABQ aims at creating a space in Albuquerque that will spur economic development by providing a common place for firms and individuals to meet and create together, and to provide a space where UNM students can find a home for top-tier academic pursuits, he said.

“We certainly hope to support our students and provide a place for our students to do research and work right here in Albuquerque,” Cullen said.

Kuuttila said planning will include discussions and input from several constituent groups throughout the process and that Perkins and Will has been instrumental in that realm so far.

“They have a lot of experience working with other communities,” Kuuttila said, “and that helps us a great deal.”

During the planning process, a corporation will be set up that will handle all the administrative duties for Innovate ABQ, Kuuttila said.

The corporation will be a completely separate entity from UNM and will most likely be a non-profit organization that will have a similar structure to STC.UNM itself, she said.

Daniel Montaño is a news editor for the Daily Lobo. He can be reached at news@dailylobo.com
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