This is the second 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 first article discusses the history of Downtown Albuquerque from 1952 to 2019 and how the Downtown area has evolved over the years.
You can read the first article entitled “A Breif History of Downtown: 1952 to 2019” at the link in the poscript below.
(Editors Note: The first article “A Breif History of Downtown: 1952 to 2019” has been edited, shortened, and updated. Information 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.)
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.
I attended St. Mary’s grade school downtown (1st grade to 8th), then Cleveland Junior High, now Mid School, 9th grade, (Louisiana, NE), and then went and graduated from Del Norte High School (Montgomery, Ave and San Mateo) in 1970.
Around 1960, the Paul and Rose Dinelli family of five moved from a home on Lomas and 3rd Street to a Mossman-Gladden, “red brick”, tract home on San Pedro, North of Menaul. I recall being told year later that the home was originally purchased for around $16,000.
THE DEVELOPMENT OF “UPTOWN ABQ” AS RETAIL CENTER
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.
“Uptown Albuquerque” and the “mid heights” can be defined as the square area bordered by Central Street as the Southern border, Montgomery as the Northern border, San Mateo as the Western border and Eubank as the Eastern border. From 1985 to 1989, much of the Uptown area, including the State Fair grounds on Lomas was Albuquerque City Councillor Pete Dinelli’s District 5, which is now District 7.
“Uptown Albuquerque” at Louisiana and South of I-25 as it is today in the 1970s to the 1990s was originally referred to by the locals as the North East Heights. As time progressed, the area began to be referred to as the “Mid Heights” because of all the residential development that occurred from Juan Tabo, NE to the foothills of the Sandia Mountains.
Juan Tabo to the foothills of the Sandia Mountains is now referred to as the “Far North East Heights”.
After “Downtown Urban Renewal” of the 1960s and 1970s that resulted in the construction of the original Albuquerque Convention Center and Civil Plaza, Albuquerque’s population growth continued to the North East Heights with Coronado Shopping Center and WINROCK eventually replacing the Downtown Central 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 Central Avenue area very slowly began to wither and die.
Residential home developers Mossman-Gladden, Dale Bellamah, Edward H. Snow,and Sam Hoffman were the four major residential home developers in Albuquerque for decades.
(Un-confirmed rumors suggest that Albuquerque residential home developer Edward H. Snow is a very distant grandson of Ed Snow of Game of Thrones. )
In 1950, residential home developer Sam Hoffman built the 800-house Hoffmantown Addition north of Menaul, east of Wyoming. In 1951, Hoffmantown Shopping Center, located at 8200 Menaul Blvd NE and on the SW corner of Wyoming was built by residential home developer Sam Hoffman. The shopping center which still stands today has a curving 450 foot linear building fronted by a parking lot with the distinctive “Hoffman Town Shopping Center” sign. Over the years, many businesses have come and gone at the shopping center. One very popular restaurant was “Charlies Back Door” and “Charlies Front Door”. There was also the Hoffmantown barbershop that was located at the location for many years where Paul Dinelli once worked as a barber before opening “Paul’s Barbershop” at third and Lomas downtown.
In 1954, residential home developer Dale Bellamah developed the 1,600-home Princess Jeanne Park, named for his wife, between Lomas and Indian School from Eubank to Juan Tabo. Dale Bellamah also built the Kirtland Addition just west of the airport.
Around 1960, from San Pedro going North East was basically vacant land that was developed over the subsequent years with many homes built in the area of Menaul and San Pedro NE going North to Candelaria and East to Wyoming.
WINROCK mall was opened March, 1961, Coronado Shopping Center was opened March, 1965 and both were originally “open malls” and two of the very first malls ever opened in the United States.
Both WINROCK and Coronado have expanded and transformed repeatedly various times from open malls to closed indoor malls, with Winrock now undergoing yet another transformation to outdoor retail stores.
The UPTOWN Commons Shopping area opened in 2006 on the site of the original St. Pius High School site.
CORONADO SHOPPING CENTER
Coronado Shopping Center was the first major mall constructed in Albuquerque.
Homart Development Company was the developer and it was the mall-building subsidiary for SEARS.
Originally, in 1965 Coronado Mall was an open air shopping center with the major anchor stores of Sears and Rhodes Department Stores.
Other stores in 1965 at Coronado included Dorothy-Gray’s Dress and Beaty Shop, Fashion Fabric Center, Henry’s Fine’s Menswear, Mandel’s Womans Apparel, the Sewing Nook, Swiss Colony Cheese House, Unique Boutique, Car-Lin Casuals, Lynn’s Apparel Shop, Richman Brother Men’s Wear, Sweetbriar Ladies Wear Shop, Judd’s Jewelers and Bank of New Mexico.
A Wyatts Cafeteria and VIP’s Big Boy were also located at Coronado Shopping Center at one time when the mall was eventually enclosed.
A “Fudruckers” hamburger restaurant is now located where the Wyatt’s Cafeteria was located and a “Kirkland” Department store is now located where the “VIP’s Bigboy Restaurant” was.
At the center of the Coronado open air mall was a fountain with the sculpture entitled “Coronado’s March” consisting of a line of soldiers, horses and pack animals. The sculpture was re located to the South West entrance of Coronado Mall where the food court is located when the mall was expanded and enclosed.
In 1974, Rhodes Brothers was re-branded as Liberty House.
In the mall’s 1975-1976 expansion, Goldwater’s and The Broadway anchor stores were added, and in 1984 a fifth anchor store Sanger-Harris was added.
At one time, a “Broadway” tire and mechanics garage was located on the West area of the shopping center, with the building still standing and used as storage.
A SEARS free standing Automotive and Tire shop was located on Menaul and the building was torn down in 2017 for parking and after SEARS closed.
In the late 1970s, Liberty House closed and was replaced by Mervyn’s Department Store.
“Chelsea Street Pub” was located at the North West Entrance of Coronado Shopping Center with both a mall entrance and an outside mall entrance to be used after regular mall hours to go and eat and drink.
Goldwater’s Department store closed in 1986, but later reopened as May D&F in 1989.
Sanger-Harris was re-branded as Foley’s in 1987 and in 1988 Foley’s closed.
In 1990, J. C. Penney opened at the former Sanger-Harris/Foley’s store area.
May D&F was re-branded as Foley’s in 1993, signifying Foley’s return to Coronado mall.
The Broadway was re-branded as Macy’s in 1996.
In 2006, Foley’s was re-branded as Macy’s, and Macy’s vacated the former “The Broadway” store area, which has now been taken over by Gordmans upstairs and Dick’s Sporting Goods downstairs.
In 2008, Mervin’s closed all stores nationally due to bankruptcy and the store area was remodeled for Kohl’s, which opened in 2010. The Kohl’s store area was “downsized” and a “Panera” bread and sandwich shop was opened on the East side of Kohl’s.
In 2019, Coronado mall is the largest in the state of New Mexico with 150 stores and is anchored by Macy’s, J.C. Penney, Kohl’s, and Dick’s Sporting Goods.
There are a number of strip store fronts on Sand Pedro and Menaul across the street from Coronado Shopping Center, with many well know businesses long gone.
As an example, Fiesta Lanes Bowling Alley was located on the north east corner of Menaul and San Pedro, and the original “bowling alley” marque sign with the outline of a bowling pin and bowling ball still remain as signage for businesses such as Staples Office Supply.
In the mid 1980’s, a Baptist Church was located on San Pedro just South of the “Butterfield’s Plaza” with Butterfield’s Jewelry Store and Mario’s Restaurant across from Coronado still in business.
The church had to be demolished after a tornado touched down briefly and did structural damage to the church and minor roof damage to Coronado Shopping Center. The law offices Of Freeman, Houseman and Dinelli, PA, were on the 15th floor of the First National Bank Building located at Central and San Mateo and the top of tornado funnel as it was forming was seen as the tornado was drifting into the city from the West of the City. A two-story commercial office building called the “Uptown Center Executive Suites” was constructed on the site of the church after it was demolished.
Stand alone restaurants built on the Coronado Shopping parking areas include Seasons 52, Longhorn Steak House and “The Cheese Factory” as a built out and separate building from the mall.
“WINROCK SAYS IT All”
Winthrop Rockefeller was an American politician and philanthropist and real estate developer, who served as the first Republican governor of Arkansas and he was a third-generation member of the Rockefeller family, one of the richest family’s in America.
WINROCK was named after Winthrop Rockefeller who developed the property and its original slogan was “Winrock Says It ALL”.
When WINROCK first opened as an “open air mall”, Diamond Jim’s Restaurant was directly South of the West Side entrance of the mall and before you actually went into the mall as you ascended op thw walkway with a “food booth”.
Rose Fresques Dinelli was a waitress at Diamond Jim’s when it first opened and she stayed with the restaurant to the day it closed.
Some of the original stores in the original WINROCK open mall included Lerner’s, Thom McCan’s Shoe Store, ZALES, “Toys by Roy”, Montgomery Wards, Record Rendezvous, JC Penny, Jordans, Paris Shoe Store, Hallmark, Pastians Bakery.
Directly to the South and on mall property was the White WINROCK two story hotel complex.
A branch of First National Bank was in the North area end outside WINROCK mall with a Safeway Grocery store and a Value House Jewelry Store.
Where the existing Romano’s Restaurant Grill now is located directly West of WINROCK on Louisiana was “Lieter’s Chevron” gas station.
On the North-East corner of the WINROCK property where a multi-screen movie theater now stands was the FOX WINROCK theater that was the single largest screen in New Mexico. The FOX Winrock Theater had a massive slopping roof that went up to accommodate the screen on the interior with the downside to the theater being that only one movie at a time could be featured.Movies such as “2001 A Space Odessey”, the original “Planet of the Apes” (Charlton Heston) and Taming of the Shrew (Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton) all premiered in Albuquerque on the big FOX Theater screen. When in High School, Pete Dinelli was an usher, along with Marty Fickle and Scott Frame, who worked for Louis Gasperini.
Where the Gardunio’s of New Mexico Restaurant now sits on the WINROCK property was “Farrel’s Ice Cream Shop” which opened in the mid 1970’s.
WINROCK closed down as a shopping mall for many years with only the Dillard’s Men’s and Women’s locations and a Sports Authority and is now going through yet another transformation.
Today, WINROCK is going through yet another major redevelopment with new stores on the parameter including Dillard’ Men’s and Woman’s Stores, Pets Mart, TJ Max, Northsrom Rack, David’s Bridle Store, DSW Shoes, Famous Footwear, Mattress Firm, Men’s Wearhouse, and ULTA Beauty Cosmetics.
The entire interior of WINROCK and all the store fronts have been gutted to make way for a road down the center lined with stores, restaurants, entertainment and housing or apartment living.
An underground parking lot has also been constructed on the South side of the property that accommodates about 300 cars.
A Regal 16-screen IMAX and RPX Theatre has been constructed on the East of the property.
Chuze Fitness Center replaced “Toys R Us” on the WINROCK property when the toy store chain went out of business in 2018.
Free standing restaurants on the WINROCK property include Red Robbin, Sauce Pizza and Wine, BJ Brew House, Burger 21, Dave and Busters, Firehouse Subs, Garduno’s of Mexico, Genghis Grill.
At the intersection corner of Northeast Louisiana Boulevard and Northeast Indian School of the WINROCK area stood the old Monroe Junior High School which closed in 1974. The school was demolished soon after it closed and the prime commercial property was sold by the School district.
In March, 2014, a unique single-level TARGET store located at the old Monroe School site at the intersection of Northeast Louisiana Boulevard and Northeast Indian School Road was opened. The TARGET is very unique by providing shoppers covered, ground-level parking, with the store elevated directly above the store. The TARGET store includes a fresh produce section, fresh packaged meat and pre-packaged baked goods. The 155,000 square-foot store employs more than 200 people.
ST. PIUS X HIGH SCHOOL TRANSFORMS INTO UPTOWN COMMONS
The “Uptown” Commons stores complex located at Indian School and Louisiana was opened in 2006 and was built on the original site of St. Pius High School.
The St. Pius High School property where the Commons now sits was sold by the Catholic Church and the high school was moved to its present location on Coors Road on the West Side, with that location being the former campus of the University of Albuquerque and formerly the College of St. Joseph on the Rio Grande.
The University of Albuquerque was a Catholic liberal arts university in Albuquerque which closed in 1986.
The west side campus atop a bluff overlooking the Rio Grande on Albuquerque’s West Side was constructed in 1950.
The “Uptown” Commons has become a vibrant retail shopping area with 51 store fronts and high-end retail specialty stores and restaurants.
A few of the stores in “Uptown Commons” include Banna Republic, Chico’s, Coldwater Creek, Eddie Bauer, Jos. A Banks, Michael Kors, Pottery Barn, Williams Sonoma, an Apple Computer Store, White House Black Market, Eddie Bauer, The Gap, MAC Cosmetics, MATI Jewelers, Jared’s Jewelry Store, Lee Michael’s Fine Jewelry, SPRINT, T Mobile and ATT to mention a few.
Restaurants at the Uptown Commons include BRAVO, the Elephant Bar, Mc Alisters, Sahara Mediterranean, California Pizza, the Melting Pot with a Starbucks Coffee shop.
A Trader Joe’s is also located on the East side of the Uptown Commons property.
OFFICE BUILDINGS, APARTMENTS AND HOTELS EMERGE IN “UPTOWN”
From 1975 to 2008, a number of hotels, apartment complexes and office buildings were built in the uptown area within walking distance of the cities three retail shopping areas of Coronado, Winrock and UPTOWN creating a synergy with the developed residential areas around the entire area.
The following developments are not intended to be an exhaustive listing of major retail and commercial buildings, but those easily identified by name.
UPTOWN COMMERCIAL OFFICE BUILDINGS:
THE ALBUQUERQUE PUBLIC SCHOOLS ADMINISTRATION BUILDINGS (ALSO KNOWN AS “THE BRUCE AND ALICE KING EDUCATION COMPLEX” or “APS City Center”)
The Albuquerque Public Schools Administration Buildings are two identical 6 story buildings located at 6510 Uptown Blvd and built around 1975. The buildings were initially commercial office buildings until purchase by the school system. At one time the law offices of Sutin, Thayer and Brown rented office space at the Western building. Albuquerque Public Schools is among the top 40 largest school districts in the nation and the largest in New Mexico, serving nearly 84,000 students in 143 schools scattered across nearly 1,200 square miles.
“6000 UPTOWN” COMMERCIAL OFFICE BUILDING
In 1981, the 4 story 6000 Uptown Office building was built located immediately East of San Pedro and South of Coronado Shopping Center. The building has 67,376 square feet of rentable office area.
“CITY PLACE” OFFICE BUILDING
In 1982, the construction of the 10 story City Place Office Building was completed and it is located at 2155 Louisiana, NE at the intersection of Louisiana and Indian School. It is a Class A office building with amenities that include floor to ceiling windows that provide outside views on all four sides of the building. In 1989, the law firm of Butt, Thornton Bayher was renting the entire 4th floor of “City Place” and at one time employed as an associate attorney then City Councilor Pete Dinelli.
THE CBRE OFFICE BUILDING
CBRE Office Building located at 6100 Uptown, NE, opened its doors in 1983. CBRE is a commercial real estate service company. The CBRE building is a 7-story office building with a dark rose colored granite facade.
“THE METRO CENTER BUILDING” AND CITY TENNIS COURTS
The Metro Center Building, located at 1720 Louisiana, NE, just South of the interstate, is an eight story, triangular shaped, office building that was opened in 1983. It boasts jet black windows and sits right on the corner and across the street from the Jerry Klein City Park and the City of Albuquerque Tennis Courts.
Jerry Cline Park is named after APD Police Officer Jerry Cline who was shot and killed while on duty. The Jerry Cline Tennis Courts located at the city park were originally located on the Southwest corner of Louisiana and Indian School where a small strip mall now strands with a Pier One Imports, Le Peep Restaurant and a “Ruth Crist’s” Steakhouse. The Ruth Crist’s Steakhouse is located in the original location of “Baily’s Fine Men’s Wear and Apparel” and at the time was the most expensive men’s garment store in Albuquerque.
ONE AND TWO PARK SQUARE TWIN BUILDINGS
Located at 6565 Americas Parkway, NE, South of Indian School and West of Louisiana, and in the heart of uptown Albuquerque, Park Square is an urban development that integrates office, retail and restaurant space. The complex consists of two 10-story office buildings (each containing 200,000 square feet) and a 43,000-square-foot retail arcade. One Park Square was completed in 1985; Two Park Square was completed in 1989. The law firm of Campbell, Pica and Olson, PA was located in One Park Square and employed as an assciate Pete Dinell. The law firm Sutin, Thayer and Brown was also located in one Park Square and at one time had an entire floor on the premises of the building when it opened.
The office buildings are clad in a buff-colored precast concrete with warm-toned windows and teal green painted mullions. The office buildings have been placed on the site adjacent to each other and facing a large plaza that serves as a convenient drop-off point for tenants and visitors. The two buildings were designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.
THE CITADEL BUILDING
The Citadel Building, nicknamed the Darth Vader Building, is a 9-story office building that completed in 1997. It is a totally jet-black window glass and black façade building with a silver line along the top that runs down the sides. Because of the shape of the building and the black façade, the building resembles the helmet of Star Wars villain Darth Vader, hence the nickname. The design of the building and the black color was originally intended to look like a piece of San Illfonso black pottery made famous by Maria Preveka. The law firm of Sager and Houston, PA at one time was located in One Park Square and employed as an Associate Attorney Pete Dinelli.
ABQ UPTOWN APARTMENT COMPLEXES
The Uptown Park apartments are studio and 1 and two-bedroom apartments located at 6200 Indian School Rd NE that were built around 1965. In 1978, Pete Dinelli rented a one room apartment for $125 at Uptown Apartments about the size of a dormitory room in order to study for the New Mexico Bar and recalls never getting his damage deposit back.
The Warren Park Apartments located at 6230 Indian School and directly East of the Uptown Park Apartment were also built around 1965.
Around the year 2000, the 4 story Woodmark Assisted Living complex located at 7201 Prospect Pl NE) was opened and provides extensive home care facilities.
ABQ Uptown Apartments were built in 2008 and located at 2222 Uptown Loop, NE, North of Indian School and East of Louisiana. It has rental units of studio apartments and 1,2, 3-bedroom apartments ranging from 603-1,671 square feet. The ABQ Uptown Apartment Complex consists of a number of separate 3 story building.
ABQ UPTOWN HOTEL BUILDINGS:
SHERATON HOTEL (FORMERLY THE “CLASSIC” HOTEL)
The Sheraton Hotel is an 8-story hotel located on the North East corner of Louisiana and Menaul and was completed in 1980 and was originally the “Classic Hotel”. It was built by George G. Maloof, Senior and completed in 1980. George G. Maloof and his family were also the original owners of First National Bank in Albuquerque and the owners of the COORS Beer Distributorship for New Mexico. The Classic Hotel and was originally intended to be a “luxury hotel”. On January 14, 1984, Betty and Pete Dinelli spent their honeymoon at the Classic Hotel and after 34 years remain happily married.
George G. Maloof passed away before the Classic was completed. After the passing of George Maloof Sr, his wife Colleen and her sons George Jr., Gavin, Phil and daughter Adriaenne Maloof, took over the Maloof business operations and expanded tremendously. The Maloofs eventually sold the Classic, moved to Las Vegas, Nevada and eventually buildt the Palms Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Maloof’s purchased the Sacramento Kings basketball team. Daughter Adrianne Maloof is one of the original stars in the Real Housewife’s of Beverly Hills.
THE MARRIOTT HOTEL
In 1981, the 15 story, Marriott Hotel was built in Uptown just off I-40Louisiana and the freeway. The hotel is directly south of the Park Square commercial office building. The Hotel has 21 event rooms with a large ballroom that can be converted into smaller event rooms. The Hotel has undergone a number of renovations over the years to keep it updated and competitive. In 2013, Pete Dinelli was running for Mayor of Albuquerque and debated his opponents in the Grand Ballroom of the Marriott.
Around the year 2000, two suite hotels, the 6 story Homewood Hilton Suites, 7101 Arvada Ave., NE and the 6 story Hyatte Place Suites, 6901 Arvada Ave NE, were opened for business. The Hilton Garden Inn ABQ Uptown is a 7-story hotel that was opened for business in 2008 and is located just off I-40 and Louisiana Blvd.
“UPTOWN ALBUQUERQUE” IS THE NEW DOWNTOWN RETAIL AREA
The “Downtown Albuquerque” of 1952 to 1965 has become the government and financial district for the city with the location of city hall, the City/County Government Center, the Court District with the Metro Court, State District Court, and the DA’s Office and 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 are also all downtown.
Downtown Albuquerque slowly but surely is beginning to see a return to its heyday of 70 years ago with residential, apartment and condo developments occurring and the development of the rail yards, but it is doubtful it will ever reach the same quaint pinnacle it was from 1952 to 1965.
The center of Albuquerque and the new “downtown” area for commercial and retail 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.
Time does indeed march on even for cities as does a city’s vibrant commercial and retail area.