A Brief History of Downtown Albuquerque: 1952 to 2019

This is the first of two articles of what I remember when it comes to the Albuquerque I grew up in, went to school, worked in, raised a family and what the city has become today.

The second article discusses the history of Albuquerque Uptown from 1952 to 2019 and how the ABQ Uptown area has evolved over the years.

You can read the second article entitled “A Brief History of ABQ Uptown: 1952 to 2019” at the link in the postscript below.

(Editors Note: The original first article “A Brief History of Downtown: 1952 to 2019” has been edited, shortened, and updated. Information that was contained in the first article on “ABQ Uptown” was used for the second article with additional information added to it. What many readers who were born and raised here or who have spent most of their lives here will discover is that the mere mention of the names of businesses and locations will bring back a rush of memories to them, hence the writing approach.)

INTRODUCTION

To read this article in perspective a few introductory remarks are in order.

Both articles were written with a heavy reliance on memory followed up with research to confirm dates given.

I was born on March 1, 1952 at Presbyterian Hospital and raised in Albuquerque.

According to the 1950 Census, the city’s population was 97,000 people and in 2018 the city proper had an estimated population of 558,000.

https://www2.census.gov/library/publications/decennial/1950/pc-02/pc-2-45.pdf

I attended St. Mary’s grade school downtown (1st grade to 8th), Cleveland Junior High (Louisiana, NE) and graduated from Del Norte High School (Montgomery, Ave and San Mateo) in 1970.

Around 1960, the Paul and Rose Dinelli family of six (two boys, one girl with one girl later born) moved from a home on Lomas and 3rd Street to a Mossman Gladden, red brick, tract home on San Pedro, North of Menaul. The home was purchase for a value of $16,000 and today with appreciation has a value of around $150,000.

When I was old enough, I took a city bus everyday from a bus stop at San Pedro and Candelaria NE at 7:00 am, the bus traveled turn south on San Mate and then would turn West on Central all the way downtown to the Sears Department store on Central where I would get off around 7:45 then walk to St. Mary’s grade school with school starting at 8:30. After a grade school day at St. Mary’s ending at 3:00 pm, I would walk from St. Mary’s School South to Central, walk East on Central to Mc Cullen’s store and take the 3:30 pm city bus to San Mateo, the City bus would make a left on San Mateo and go to Candelaria and take left on San Pedro and I would get off at the bus stop on San Pedro at the “Bob White’s” Super Market at the corner of San Pedro and Candelaria and walk home going South to our home in front of Quigley Park.

GEOGRAPHIC AREA OF DOWNTOWN DEFINED

The historical soul of Albuquerque will always be “Old Town” Plaza Albuquerque founded in 1706 with its narrow streets and century-old adobe houses, the historic Francis De Neiri Church and the Old Town Plaza Gazebo.

From approximately 1952 to about 1965, Downtown Albuquerque on Central from Broadway to Rio Grande, including Old Town, was considered the “hub of activity” for retail and business where you would shop, bank and go for entertainment and the area of major tourist activity.

Central Avenue going West from Broadway Ave to the Rio Grande River is traditionally thought of as “Downtown” by many born and raised in Albuquerque or long-term residents.

Downtown Albuquerque should probably also be considered to include a mile north and a mile south of Central between Broadway and the Rio Grande river so as to include Old Town, the Albuquerque Museum, the Children’s Science Museum, the New Mexico History Museum, the Zoo, the BioPak, which includes the botanical gardens and aquarium, and various government buildings including courthouses and commercial office buildings.

GHOSTS OF “DOWNTOWN ALBUQUERQUE”

From 1952 to 1965, Downtown Central with all its retail commercial stores, banks, utility office buildings and theaters was the beating financial heart of the city and in its heyday.

There were many retail stores that existed on Central Street downtown and side streets and included:

Leeds Shoe Store, Mindlin’s Jewelry, Mandell Dreyfus, the Court Cafe and Bakery, Kistler Collister, Sears & Roebuck, Lindy’s Diner, the old Hilton, Liberty Cafe, St. John’s Cathedral, Gambel’s, The Men’s Hat Shop, Skip Maisel’s Indian Jewelry and Crafts Trading, Levine’s, JC Penney, Montgomery Ward’s, Fedway Department Store, Paris Shoe Store, Hale Shoe Store, Stromberg’s Clothing, American Furniture, People’s Flowers, Russell Stover’s candies, Mc Cullens, Tandy’s Leather, The Magic Shop, Kurt’s Camera Coral, Krees’s, Woolworth’s, Payless Drugs, Zales Jewelry, Skaggs, Fogg’s Fine Jewelry, PNM (across from the KIMO) the Sunshine, KIMO, State and the El Rey movie theaters, and First National Bank, Franchini’s Deli and Magnison’s Deli and the YMCA to mention a few. The Alvarado Hotel was located at 1st and Central and the pueblo style 7 story Franciscan Hotel was at 6th and Central.

In 1958, the construction of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, located at 619 Copper, NW, downtown, began with the dedication of the church taking place on March 24, 1960. The Catholic Church with its imposing front entrance with the Crucifixion Christ and on the inside the ornate mosaic of the Virgin Mary flanked by 3 angels on each side as the backdrop of the alter is considered one of the most ornate churches in the city. I went to confession many times at the church and took my first holy communion at the Immaculate Conception Church after which my father Paul Dinelli took me to “Ruppie’s Pharmacy” still located on 4nd Street, about 2 miles South of Central, to visit. I also received the sacrament of confirmation at the Immaculate Conception Church and for some reason remember the sound of the Arch Bishop’s slap resonating on one student in particular.

The demolition of the Franciscan Hotel and the Alvarado Hotel and restaurant signaled the beginning demise of the downtown area to what it is today.

What also contributed to the demise of Downtown was the closure of the old “Albuquerque High School”, dubbed “Bulldog City” named after the school’s mascot, located and Central and Broadway, and the school was moved to its current location at Indian School and the freeway. For decades, the old Albuquerque High School on Central remained vacant and deteriorating until the school buildings were eventually purchased and developed into high end condos.

THE ALVARADO HOTEL

The Alvarado Hotel had a tremendous historical significance to the city.

Albuquerque’s first train station was a small railroad depot on the site of the current Alvarado Transportation Center at First and Central in the 1880’s.

With increasing demand for a larger facility, the Alvarado Hotel, a Mission Revival-style building which served as one of the many Harvey Houses along the train route, was constructed on the site in the year 1902.

“Harvey Girl’s” were trained at the Alvarado with dormitory facilities provided to young woman in need of work. A very young Rose Fresques Dinelli in her mid twenties lived in the dormitory and was trained to be a Harvey Girl. Many years later, she would meet Paul Dinelli at the Alvarado, Paul and Rose married. Many years later Rose would again become a waitress at other restaurants after Paul became seriously ill and she initially supported the family of five on the minimum wage. Rose Dinelli was a waitress for some 30+ years before she passed away in 1997 at age 76 from breast cancer. Rose Dinelli passed away in the very same Mosman-Gladden home she had purchased with her husband Paul around 1962.

Santa Fe Railroad architect Charles Whittlesey designed the Alvarado building, and Mary Colter designed the interior of the hotel. The hotel was named for “Hernando de Alvarado” of the 1540 Francisco Vásquez de Coronado Expedition.

Just south of the hotel a train station was constructed, also in the Mission Revival style, with a large, distinctive tower. In 1902, the Alvarado Hotel, also a Mission Revival-style building which served as one of the many Harvey Houses along the train route, was constructed at 1st and Central. The Alvarado Hotel was renowned for its luxury and food dining, but by the mid-20th century, with the decline in railroad travel in the United States, the hotel fell on hard times and was demolished in 1970. The Alvarado Hotel was demolished in 1970 and the site remained a dirt parking lot for many years and the City eventually purchased the property.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alvarado_Transportation_Center

The current Albuquerque Transportation Center (ATC) complex was constructed in the 2000s to resemble the façade of the Alvarado. The first phase of the ATC project was completed in 2002 to serve ABQ Ride and the second phase was completed in 2006.

THE FRANCISCAN HOTEL

Franciscan Hotel was located at Central Avenue and Sixth Street, northwest corner and had 150 guest rooms, of which 50 were equipped with a private bathroom facilities. The hotel was six stories, plus a basement and a penthouse for a total of 7 stories. The Franciscan hotel opened on December 15, 1923, closed in October, 1970, and was demolished in May, June and July, 1972.The Franciscan Hotel was a hotel designed in the style called “Pueblo Revival”. The main lobby had the distinctive “vegas” of the pueblo style revival.

http://www.henrytrost.org/buildings/franciscan-hotel/

Former APD and retired Police Officer Steve Devoti and his grade school classmate Pete Dinelli attended St. Mary’s Grade School and at that time John Devoti, father of Steve, was the general manager of the Franciscan Hotel with the DeVoti family living in the Franciscan Hotel at the time in the Managers Quarters of the hotel. Many years later, John Devoti would become the general manger of the “Stadium Club”, a restaurant built and located on the second floor of the “Dukes Baseball Stadium”. John Devoti hired Pete Dinelli, around 16 at the time, as a busboy at the Stadium Club.

Since its demolition in 1970, the land that the Franciscan Hotel was located has been a vacant parking lot.

DOWNTOWN TRANSFORMS

Around 1960, from San Pedro going east and north east was basically vacant land that was developed over the subsequent years with many homes built by Mossman Gladden Homes and Dale Bellamah Homes. Urban renewal in the 1960s and 1970’s gutted or demolished many historic and government buildings in downtown Albuquerque as well as residential areas. Residential areas in the down town area where civic plaza and the convention center now are and going all the way north to Lomas were condemned and torn down for urban renewal.

The original Albuquerque Convention Center was built in the late 1960’s as part of “urban renewal” as was the old 5 story Frank Horan City Hall building and the 4 story downtown main police station were built and still stand on property that was condemned in the name of “urban renewal”. To the north of the original convention center was built the “Hilton Double Tree” hotel, 201 Marquette, NW, built in 1975, to serve the convention center and the “semi-circular” architecture portion of the hotel was reportedly inspired by “hot air” balloons and originally painted in various bight colors. During urban renewal, many residential areas downtown were demolished and replaced by office buildings and it had an impact on retail businesses along Central Downtown.

In 1960, the 14-floor building known today as the New Mexico Bank and Trust Building, 3701 4th Street, NW, was opened .

In 1965, the 13 story Dennis Chavez federal office building at 500 Gold, SW was opened. Between 1984 and 1989, private Attorney Pete Dinelli tried cases and appeared before Federal United States District Judges Edward L. Mitchem and Juan Burciaga and United States Federal Bankruptcy Judges Stewart Rose and Mark Mc Feely.

In 1966, both the 18 floor Compass bank building, 505 Marquette, NW and 12 story PNM office building, 414 Silver, SW, were built in the mid 1960’s.

In 1972 the 6 story First Plaza building, 200 3rd St, NW, was completed and was the corporate headquarters of First National Bank owned by the Maloof Family. In the basement of First Plaza is the Galeria and at one time had a restaurant “El Esquina”, a NM Motor Vehicle Satellite Office, the art studio of well known New Mexco oil painter artist Author Sussman and a private gymnasium. Concentra Art Gallery is one of the few stores that remain in the lower level of the Galeria. In the front of the Galeria is a bronze statute of George Maloof, Senior and it was orginally placed in front of a New Mexico Motor Vehicle Deaprment (MVD) building and a puplic out cry occurred demanding its removal because Goerge Mallof was the New Mecio distributor of Coors Beer and many felt the placement of the statue was inappropriate given New Mexico’s DWI problems.

In 1973, the 16 story Wells Fargo Building at 200 Lomas, NW opened. In 1978, the law offices of attorney and Republican County Commissioner Skeet McCulock were in the building.

In 1973, the 10-story Bank of the West and Davita Medical building complex located at 303 Roma, NW with and adjoining multi story parking structure across from the Wells Fargo Bank on Lomas was opened. Where the parking structure now sits South of Lomas on third street was the location of Paul’s Barber Shop built by Paul Dinelli on the lot of where the home of Rose and Paul Dinelli once stood before moving to a home on San Pedro. Paul’s Barber Shop would later be condemned by the city, the building leveled in the interest of the urban renewal. Since the construction of the building, the law firm of Modrall, Sperling, Rael, & Sisk, PA one of the largest law firms in the state, have had its office located on two floors of the building. Renown New Mexico landscape artist Wilson Hurley was an attorney with the firm before he bacame an artist full time.

In 1975, the 8 floor, city owned, Plaza Del Sol, 600 2nd, was opened and was originally a bank building.

In 1978, the 8 floor AT&T building at 111 3rd NW, was built.

In 1980, the eight-story, 251,000-square-foot-building Alvarado Square located 415 Silver SW, was built by Hunter Keith Industries expressly for PNM Resources and was the corporate headquarters for PNM. Empty for a full 2 years from 2014 to 2016, it was purchased by Bernalillo County in 2017 and will be renovated and remodeled as the new Bernalillo County Government Main Office and Headquarters and will house about 1,200 county employees.

The old Bernalillo County Detention center building located at 415 Roma, NW was built in 1978 and was updated in the early 2000s. The Bernalillo County Detention Center building at 415 Roma, NW has foot wide windows, with inches thick security glass from top to bottom, where it was very common to see relatives and acquaintances of jail inmates outside on the ground communicating by “sign language” with jail inmates looking down at them. The old jail was the New Mexico Regional Correction Center until 2001 and then later an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facility. The old jail building is in need of a total new sewer system and in need of extensive repairs to the point it will be demolished. Over the years, the jail facility has been used for filming but was completely closed down 2014 due to safety concerns.

Built in 1978, the 6 story Bernalillo County Public Safety Building located at 401 Roma, NW was the former Metropolitan Court house until January 20, 2004 when the new Metro Court on Lomas was dedicated and opened.

The 8th floor “Plaza Campana” 400 Tijeras the houses Molina Health care was built in 1981 and has gone under significant renovations over the years.

Locally owned banks such as First National Bank, owned by the George G. Maloof family and the Albuquerque National Bank and SUNWEST Bank started to establish branch banking before the banks were bought by bigger national banks such as Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Bank of the West, CITI Bank, and Compass Bank.

It was not until the early 1980’s that the City-County Government Center, 11 story building located at 1 Civic Plaza west of the plaza and located between the Frank Horan City Hall building and the old District Courthouse was erected. Frank Horan was a long time serving City Attorney whose son and grandson went on to become a lobbyist and an attorney repecttiflly. In 1985, Pete Dinelli was elected to the Albuquerque City Council, District 5, became Vice President of the City Council and was assigned an office on the 9th floor of the newly erected City-County Government Center. Pete Dinelli served on the Albuquerque City Council from 1985 to 1989 with Steve Gallegos, Vince Griego, Pat Baca, Michael Weiner, Richard Chapman, Nadine Bicknell, Tom Hoover, Fran Hill and Hess Yntema when Ken Schultz was Mayor. Years later, Pete Dinelli returned to City Hall in 2001 and served for a full 8 years as a Deputy City Attorney and had an office on the 4th floor of city hall for the Safe City Strike Force. Dinelli made it to the 11th floor in July, 2007 when he became Chief Public Safety Officer but he did not get the 11th floor office he wanted despite trying twice, once in 1989 and then again in 2013.

The distinctly dome designed Albuquerque Civic Auditorium east of the old St. Joseph’s Hospital opened in 1957 and was demolished in 1987 and a city own entertainment venue never replaced it. In 1970, Pete Dinelli was the Del Norte High School Senior Class President and spoke to the 1970 graduating class at the Civic Auditorium where most high school graduations occurred at the time.

At one time, the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce offices were located at the Albuquerque Civic Auditorium where the dynamic G.Y. Fails was the Executive Director of the Chamber for a number of years. G.Y. Fails was a proud member of the American Legion where he served as a National Committeeman and was a close personal friend of former Democratic State Party Chairman Drew Cloud, who also was a member of the American Legion and a World War II veteran. For a number of years, both G.Y. Fails and Drew Cloud were Government Councillors at the American Legion New Mexico Boy’s State held every summer at the New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell, New Mexico. In 1969, G.Y. Fails and Drew Cloud met 17 year old Pete Dinelli, a Boy’s Stater who represented Del Norte High School. Dinelli was elected the 1969 New Mexico Boy’s State Governor.

Two businesses that have survived for decades on Central downtown have been the “The Men’s Hat Shop” and “Skip Maisel’s Indian Jewelry and Crafts Trading”. Skip Maisel’s Indian Jewelry and Crafts Trading announced in February, 2019 that it was closing its doors and going out of business.

STEADY DEMISE OF “DOWNTOWN” AS ALBUQUERQUE “GROWS” EASTWARD

Around 1960, from San Pedro going east and north east was basically vacant land that was developed over the subsequent years with many homes built by Mossman Gladden Homes and Dale Bellamah Homes.

After urban renewal of the 1960s and 1970s, Albuquerque’s population growth continued to the North East Heights with Coronado Shopping Center and WINROCK eventually replacing the Downton retail shopping area of the city.

Many of the national downtown retail stores such as Sears, J. C. Penny’s and Montgomery Wards relocated to the malls to follow all the residential development.

It was with the building of the major retail shopping malls in the 1960s and when the city growth and population began spreading to the East and North East when the downtown area very slowly began to wither and die. WINROCK mall was opened March, 1961, Coronado Shopping Center was opened March, 1965 and both were “open malls” and two of the very first malls ever opened in the United States.

It was in 1964 that the 10 story Landmark Apartments, 6303 Indian School Road in Uptown was completed and it was the first “luxury” apartments built and today it has studio, one bedroom and 2 bedroom apartments.

Both WINROCK and Coronado have expanded and transformed repeatedly various times from open malls to closed indoor malls.

The UPTOWN Commons Shopping area opened in 2006.

THE COURTHOUSE DISTRICT CREATED

It was in 1998 that the “Court House” District began to emerge in Downtown Albuquerque.

The Second Judicial District Court was located at 5th and Marquette and law student Pete Dinelli was a law clerk during the summer months of 1975 and 1976 for then District Court Judges Harry Stowers, Joseph Baca, Phil Baiamonte and Rozier Sanchez.

Either as an Assistant Attorney General, Assistant District Attorney, Bernalillo County Chief Deputy District Attorney or as an attorney in private practice of law, Pete Dinelli appeared before District Judges Harry Stowers, Joseph Baca, Phil Ashby, William Riordan, Patricia Madrid, James Blackmer, Ross Sanchez, Maurice Sanchez, James Fowley, Frank Ryan, Frank Allen, Gene Franchini, John Brennan, Pat Murdock, Phil Baiamonte, Rozier Sanchez, Gerald Cole and Anne Kass at one time or another at the District Court House located at 5th and Marquette. District Judges Harry Stowers, Joseph Baca, William Reardon and Gene Franchini all went on to become New Mexico Supreme Court Judges and District Court Judge Patricia Madrid became the first and only female ever elected New Mexico Attorney General serving two terms. Glennie Franchini, the wife of Gene Franchini, was the campaign manager for New Mexico Supreme Court Justice Harry Stowers, a roll she would repeat later for her husband Gene Franchini. State District Court Judge Nancy Franchini, the daughter of Gene and Glennie Franchini was elected to the District Court bench in 2014.

In 1998, the 7 story, $41 million United States Federal Courthouse located at 333 Lomas Blvd. NW across the street from the Metropolitan Court was completed and dedicated. Years later, it was dedicated as the Pete V. Domenici Federal Courthouse.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pete_V._Domenici_United_States_Courthouse

During the last 60 plus years, there have been 3 physical locations for the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office: the 2nd Judicial District Courthouse, “Union Station” and the Steve Schiff District Attorney Building. Over the last 60 years, the Bernalillo County District Attorney office has grown from a small office of one elected District Attorney and 10 appointed Assistant District Attorneys to an office that employs 319 full time personnel consisting of 118 full time attorneys, and numerous paralegals, secretaries, investigators, and victim advocates.

For many years, and for many elected District Attorneys, the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office was located on the second floor of the old 2nd Judicial District Courthouse downtown at 5th Street and Marquette, NW. Assistant District Attorney Pete Dinelli was appointed by District Attorney Steve Schiff, who later was elected to the US Congress. Dinelli served in the White Collar Crimes Division and the Violent Crimes Division and he had an office on the second floor of the courthouse and worked for District Attorney Steve Schiff for two years. Prominent trial attorney Randi Mc Ginnn also served as an Assistant District Attorney in the Violent Crimes Division along with Dianne Dal Santo who later became a District Court Judge. Elected Bernalillo County District Attorneys who worked at the old County Courthouse included Al Sorese, Jim Brandenburg, father of Kari Brandenburg who served for 16 years as District Attorney, Ira Robinson, Steve Schiff and Bob Schwartz. Ira Robinson went on to be elected to the New Mexico Court of Appeals, Bob Schwartz went on to be elected a State District Court Judge, Steve Schiff went on to be elected United States Congressman and Pete Dinelli was appointed by Governor Bruce King as a Workers Compensation Judge with state wide jurisdiction and he served for 7 years as an Administrative Law Judge. The old courthouse at Tijeras and 5th still stands today and it is often used for TV and film productions, including “Breaking Bad” and “Better Call Saul”, for courtroom scenes.

Also located in the courthouse at 5th Street and Marquette was a jail facility on the very top floor that inmates would regularly plug up the toilets resulting in flooding to the below courtrooms and offices.

The historic Union Station building located off of Central and the rail road tracks in downtown Albuquerque housed the District Attorney’s office for about 10 years, with the county remodeling and repairing it over those years. District Attorneys Bob Schwartz and Jeff Romero worked at the Union Station Office. District Attorney Jeff Romero hired Pete Dinelli as Chief Deputy District Attorney and they both had offices at the Union Station building.

As both the 2nd Judicial District Court and the District Attorney’s Office grew over the years, it was necessary for the county to move both the District Attorney’s Office and the District Court to their own separate buildings. In June, 2001, the Bernalillo County Courthouse located at 400 Lomas and the adjacent Bernalillo county District Attorney Office were dedicated.

The Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office at 400 Lomas was built during the term of District Attorney Jeff Romero and Deputy District Attorney Pete Dinelli. Both Romero and Dinelli successfully lobbied the Bernalillo County Commission for funding and construction at the same time as the new courthouse. The building of the courthouse and the District Attorney’s Office were both part of the same project costing $55.9 million dollars to construct both buildings. An emphasis was placed on aesthetics for both the new courthouse and the district attorney office to include public art, including sculptures and paintings. Outside and in front of the entrance of the District Attorney’s office is a commissioned sculpture of an adult “American eagle” in a nest with chicks to symbolize the nurturing of justice. The outside bronze piece is a commissioned work of art by well-known New Mexico sculptor Sonny Rivera.

In January, 2004, the nine story Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court house, with a construction cost of $83 million, and located on the northwest corner of 4th Street and Lomas Boulevard was dedicated.

ATTEMPTS TO REVITALIZE DOWNTOWN

In the early to mid-1980’s, the City Council attempted to revitalize Downtown as a place to go with the multi-million dollar “Festival Market Place”. The Festival Market place was intended to be a large entertainment venue where civic plaza now sits and nearby areas. “Concerned Citizens” of Albuquerque mounted a voter initiative to put it on the ballot that killed the festival market place.

After the demise of the Festival Market Place at the polls, the City Council exerted itself even further with Downtown revitalization by pushing the expansion of the Albuquerque Convention Center with the major addition of an east wing and a parking structure. The 21 story Hyatte Regency and 22 story Albuquerque Plaza complex, which opened in 1990, were built in part with city bonding to coincide with the convention center expansion.

From 1985 to 1989, the Albuquerque City Council continued with efforts to try to revitalize in part Downtown Albuquerque.

In 1987, the City Council enacted the 10-year quarter cent “Quality of Life” tax which included funding for a Performing Arts Center, the Children’s Science Museum, the Botanical Gardens, the Albuquerque Aquarium and the Balloon Museum and the acquisition of critical open space in the Sandia foothills. City Councilor Pete Dinelli was one of the two original sponsors of the “Quality of Life Tax.” The Children’s Science Museum, the Botanical Gardens, the Albuquerque Aquarium and the Balloon Museum were all constructed with the 10 year Quality of Life tax revenues.

The performing arts center was originally proposed to be built at a cost of $60 million and was to be built on the city vacant land located directly north of Civic Plaza in an effort to revitalize downtown. Another voter petition drive initiative was undertaken that forced a vote on the proposed performing arts center and voters said no to the project.

From 1990 to 1994, downtown revitalization took the form of trying to build a new baseball stadium in the area of Broadway and Lomas to again revitalize the area and bring people to downtown.
Relocating the baseball stadium failed and the old baseball park for the “Dukes” baseball team was leveled and rebuilt calling it a “remodeling” and the stadium was renamed “Isotopes Park” after the city was able to lure another professional baseball team.

The Bio Park, with the Rio Grande Zoo, Aquarium and Botanical Gardens, is the number one tourist attraction in the State of New Mexico. During the 2015 municipal election, Albuquerque voters approved with an overwhelming majority the voter petition drive initiative to increase the gross receipts tax for the Bio Park. There are at least $40 million dollars in upgrades and exhibits planned for the Bio Park facilities and without making those repairs, the city risks losing many national certifications.

ART BUS PROJECT

A major impact on the historical character of Route 66 Central was the construction of the ART Bus Project. In 2015, ground was broken for the Albuquerque Rapid Transit (ART) bus project at a cost of $130 million dollars with the use of a federal grants and revenue bonds to finance. The ART Bus project is a 10 mile stretch of old “Route 66” along Central from the Westside Coors Road through the downtown area up to Louisiana Street, NE. The ART project was constructed and designed to go directly down the center of Central with “bus stop” platforms constructed in the center of Central. The construction of the bus route eliminated the median improvements made in the ten mile stretch. Downtown dodge a major bullet when the ART Bus route was diverted from Central going west starting at First Street up side streets to 10th Street and back on Central at Old Town with no ART Bus platforms constructed from First Street to Rio Grande Blvd. Although the ART Bus lanes and platforms were completed in 2018, delivery of 22 new buses for the bus route has yet to happen.

A DOWNTOWN IDENTITY CRISIS

“Downtown Albuquerque” has become the government and financial district for the city with the location of city hall, the City/County Government Center, the Metro Court, State District Court, the Federal Courts, the Social Security Administration, the main bank branches of Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Bank of the West, Compass Bank and other banks and government agencies.

The center of Albuquerque and the new “downtown” is the Uptown Area of the city consisting of Coronado Shopping Center, the many shops at the Commons at Uptown, and the WINROCK development.
The WINROCK development will include even more retail shops and even luxury housing when it’s done not to mention all the restaurants that have popped up in the area with even more planned including commercial office space in the area.

Downtown Albuquerque is clearly part of the sole of the city, as is Old Town, because of the history it represents. There has been a very large number of multi-story apartments and condos developed directly south of Central between 1st Street and 6th Street within the past 10 years along with the Silver Street “grocery store” in one of the developments. The residential developments are Downtown’s biggest hope yet for Downtown revitalization because it will sustain vibrant downtown activity, where people can live, raise a family and work and play which is the “walkable city” concept.

The Albuquerque High School condos and the Lobo Rainforest Building and Innovate Albuquerque development across the street at Broadway and Central will no doubt help with Downtown revitalization. The “One Central” development located at 1st Street and Central, which is now opened, is a public-private mixed-use development, including at least 39,000 square feet of commercial space with an entertainment tenant initially described as an upscale bowling alley with at least two other retail or restaurant tenants, 60 residential units and a 429-space parking garage.

PROSPECT OF RETURNING TO OLD GLORY DAYS

There has been a very large number of multi-story apartments and condos developed directly south of Central between 1st Street and 6th Street within the past 10 years along with the Silver Street “grocery store” in one of the developments.

The Albuquerque High School condos and the Lobo Rainforest Building and Innovate Albuquerque development across the street at Broadway and Central will no doubt help with Downtown revitalization. The “One Central” development located at 1st Street and Central, is a public-private mixed-use development, including at least 39,000 square feet of commercial space with an entertainment tenant initially described as an upscale bowling alley with at least two other retail or restaurant tenants, 60 residential units and a 429-space parking garage.

The historic and vacant Albuquerque Rail Yards are within one mile of the Downtown area located south of Downtown between the Barelas and South Broadway neighborhoods. Lorenzo Dinelli, the father of Paul Dinelli and the grandfather of Pete Dinelli, immigrated from Lucca, Italy to Albuquerque in the year 1900 and years later Lorenzo Dinelli worked at the Albuquerque Rail Yards years later once they rail yards had been constructed. Albuquerque Rail Yards has 18 buildings still standing erected between 1915 and 1925 and include four major maintenance facilities built by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. The city has upgraded one building at the rail yards, the blacksmith shop, where the Rail Yards Market Place has taken place on weekends each summer since 2014.

In order to create a major tourist attraction, the city is planning remediation efforts and to activate a second building at the Albuquerque Rail Yards. Activating a second building will accommodate additional vendors and potentially be a big tourist draw.

The residential developments are Downtown’s biggest hope yet for Downtown revitalization because it will sustain vibrant downtown activity, where people can live, raise a family and work and play which is the “walk-able city” concept. Downtown Albuquerque slowly but surely is beginning to see a return to its heyday of 70 years ago, but it is doubtful it will ever reach the same quaint pinnacle it was from 1952 to 1965.

Time does indeed march on even for cities as does a city’s vibrant commercial and retail area.

POSTSCRIPT

Following is the link to the second article “A Brief History of Downtown Albuquerque: 1952 to 2019”:

A Brief History of ABQ Uptown: 1952 to 2019

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Pete Dinelli was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He is of Italian and Hispanic descent. He is a 1970 graduate of Del Norte High School, a 1974 graduate of Eastern New Mexico University with a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration and a 1977 graduate of St. Mary's School of Law, San Antonio, Texas. Pete has a 40 year history of community involvement and service as an elected and appointed official and as a practicing attorney in Albuquerque. Pete and his wife Betty Case Dinelli have been married since 1984 and they have two adult sons, Mark, who is an attorney and George, who is an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). Pete has been a licensed New Mexico attorney since 1978. Pete has over 27 years of municipal and state government service. Pete’s service to Albuquerque has been extensive. He has been an elected Albuquerque City Councilor, serving as Vice President. He has served as a Worker’s Compensation Judge with Statewide jurisdiction. Pete has been a prosecutor for 15 years and has served as a Bernalillo County Chief Deputy District Attorney, as an Assistant Attorney General and Assistant District Attorney and as a Deputy City Attorney. For eight years, Pete was employed with the City of Albuquerque both as a Deputy City Attorney and Chief Public Safety Officer overseeing the city departments of police, fire, 911 emergency call center and the emergency operations center. While with the City of Albuquerque Legal Department, Pete served as Director of the Safe City Strike Force and Interim Director of the 911 Emergency Operations Center. Pete’s community involvement includes being a past President of the Albuquerque Kiwanis Club, past President of the Our Lady of Fatima School Board, and Board of Directors of the Albuquerque Museum Foundation.