When Stacy Snyder decided to relocate last year, she had a few criteria in mind.

    She wanted to be in an area with a lot of trees, but that had plenty of nightlife and other activities within walking distance.  And she wanted to live downtown.

    Synder found the perfect place: a new apartment complex on Silver SW, just a few blocks off Central's main drag.  The two-bedroom apartment has tiled floors, high ceilings and two patios.  It joins six other units which all sit among trees behind a security gate.

The location - and price, at $595 a month - were perfect for Snyder, 35 a single woman who sells computer training materials, and her boyfriend, Mike Liles, 33, a flight attendant.

The couple is able to easily walk to the Rio Grande Nature trail and to downtown events on the Civic Plaza.  Plus, it takes just minutes to access I-25 and the airport.

"I really appreciate how green, old and established that area is," she says.  "I love living downtown."

Downtown developers are hoping other young professionals, families, students and even senior citizens will also see the streets shooting off Central, and the neighborhoods surrounding it, as enticing places to live.

By the year 2010, they hope to have at least 20,000 people living within one mile of the downtown core, and 5,000 living within the core itself.

Currently, officials estimate that 16,000 people live within one mile of the core, and about 600 within the core.

To achieve this urban housing scenario, a number of steps must take place, many of which are outlined in the Downtown 2010 sector development plan, a roadmap created by the city of Albuquerque and the Downtown Action Team that address a number of downtown

development issues.

For instance, a variety of housing styles need to be developed, including townhouses, urban apartments, lofts, and condominiums.  Downtown housing for University of New Mexico students, who generally live in dorms or in rented houses or apartments near campus, would be ideal.  Existing commercial and industrial buildings should be converted into loft housing and artist live/work space.  Churches could pool their time and resources to help create senior4 housing.

But, experts say, that will take a lot of work to accomplish.

"Because nobody's done it, it's like handcrafting a Rolls Royce - you have to make it up as you go along," says Paul Silverman, owner of Geltmore Inc., an Albuquerque development company, and chair of the DAT's housing committee.

One of the first roadblocks, naturally, is funding.

There, Albuquerque has been fortunate.  In February, the city was one of five communities selected nationwide by Fannie Mae, the largest non-bank financial services company in the world, to receive money through its Neighborhood Partner Initiative.  The program gives funds to cities undergoing revitalization efforts.

Albuquerque, at $25 million, was one of the larger recipients, says Steve Anaya, director of the Fannie Mae Partnership Office.  Anaya, a DAT member who serves on the housing committee, was largely responsible for submitting

By Karen Jarnagin, NMBW staff


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NEW MEXICO BUSINESS WEEKLY  -              Week of November 15th, 1999          - One Dollar


Downtown to grow living space

City planners are hoping that new housing opportunities will entice more people to live downtown