Briefing:
  • We're tracking prominent establishments that have yet to reopen. The news is mostly good.
  • Rio Grande Park subsumes Kit Carson in final act of renaming effort
  • Benton to propose moratorium on Old Town cannabis sales
  • Ed Garcia to buy Rosenwald Buiding
  • DAN wants to know: How was your weekend?
We're tracking prominent establishments that have yet to reopen. The news is mostly good.
This spring's heartening wave of reopenings has come fast and furious. But as the major museums, flamenco performances, St. Johns's Thrift Store, the convention center, public pools, movie theaters, in-person theaters, and even the long-shuttered aquarium return to life, there are still a few prominent stragglers.

But while a delayed reopening could be a sign of trouble, the good news is that we've been able to confirm that most of the establishments in question are alive and well and plan to be back in business soon. Here's a roundup:

Modern General and The Feel Good: The two West Downtown restaurants should be back open within a month or so, owner Erin Wade told DAN. They've been busy giving both buildings a deep clean and staffing up from scratch, which has proved a serious challenge. "That's not a rumor," Wade said. Apart from the oft-cited unemployment benefits situation, many have moved on to other industries or gone back to school in the last year, she said.

Pop Fizz: The paleta vendor with a storefront on the National Hispanic Cultural Center's campus didn't return multiple messages seeking comment last week. NHCC spokesman Patrick Rodriguez said the shop's lease isn't up until this fall but that "it's up to Pop Fizz to decide when to resume operations."

Cake Nightclub: The Central Avenue nightclub was hiring for a number of positions as of May 18.

El Rey Theater: The historic music venue has lately been issuing a flurry of booking announcements on Facebook, including one for this weekend.

Brixens: The 4th and Central restaurant did not returned messages seeking comment and its last social media post was December 20. Owner Tanya Sanchez told KRQE in January that following a brief reopening last fall she planned to close in order to build a wrap-around patio on the sidewalk. The project was projected to last until about March 1 but does not appear to have started.

Library Bar and Grill: Owner Michael Conforti told KOAT in April that he would wait to reopen until he could do so at full capacity. Under the turquoise level, bars and clubs are still restricted to 33 percent capacity indoors.

Effex: The 5th and Central nightclub announced over the weekend that it was aiming for a late June opening. Meanwhile, it is selling tickets for shows as early as August 6.

If you've been wondering about the reopening progress of another greater Downtown establishment, let us know.
Rio Grande Park subsumes Kit Carson in final act of renaming effort
The sign went up Friday.
A year-long effort to rename Kit Carson Park concluded last week with a surprise sleight of hand as Mayor Tim Keller's administration sidelined a naming recommendation from its own advisory panel and effectively expanded another nearby park into the larger space long named for the controversial fur trapper and frontiersman

Following a push to rename the park last summer, the Metropolitan Parks and Recreation Advisory Board voted in November to rename Kit Carson as Cottonwood Park, with board member Valerie Martinez remarking at the time that "I think we're safe with flora and fauna."

That recommendation went to the mayor, but "after gathering additional community input ... it was decided that the park formerly known as Kit Carson will be named Rio Grande Park," city spokeswoman Jessica Campbell told DAN.

The move was controversial, with about one-third of people responding last year to a city survey opposing the change, but the new name does manage the unusual trick of both streamlining area park names while also nodding to local history. 

That's because Rio Grande Park already existed before the new signs went up last week. Today, we know it as a low-profile triangle of land near Iron and Alcalde that is used primarily as a dog park, but it once stretched east to 10th, encompassing most of what is now the zoo. (It also once hosted a POW camp, as we learned last September.) One 1954 map produced by the U.S. Geological Survey even had the park taking up the entire area of the former Kit Carson Park, meaning the new name may, in fact, be a return to the old name.

The historical record is nonetheless patchy and it's not clear when exactly the Kit Carson identity emerged, but it is likely connected to the adjacent street of the same name (which is not changing) and could well have been further solidified by the 1960s-era connection of Alcalde to Tingley Drive that formally cut the park into two distinct spaces (DAN, 8/18/20).
Benton proposes a moratorium on Old Town cannabis sales
City Councilor Isaac Benton will introduce legislation later today that would delay the possible location of cannabis retail operations in Old Town for about one year.

The move comes as the council wraps up its work on a package of amendments to its development regulations, which would normally represent an opportunity to spell out what could or couldn't happen in Old Town. But the city "needs additional time to evaluate potential zoning limits for cannabis within Old Town and to meet procedural obligations with respect to any cannabis limitations or restrictions that may be established," the resolution reads.

The moratorium would expire either on July 1, 2022, or when the next package of development amendments is approved, which is also likely to be the summer of 2022.

While he is generally open to cannabis sales across the city, Benton has reservations about the historic di
strict.

"Old Town Plaza is probably not a place where you want to have cannabis sales," he told DAN in late May. "The rest of the city, including Route 66, I think should be open for these businesses."

The bill is expected to be heard at the June 21 council meeting. The full text is here. A map of how the bill defines Old Town is here.
Ed Garcia to buy Rosenwald Building
The owner of several prominent Downtown properties looks set to acquire another. Ed Garcia, whose family controls the Garcia Auto Group, has struck a deal with the city to buy its two-thirds share of the historic Rosenwald Building at 4th and Central. The City Council will be asked to approve the sale later today.

Under the deal, Garcia would lease out a section of the building to the city for a new police substation. The full agreement is here.
We're curious: How noisy was your weekend?
APD's special push against street racing, noisy driving, and other problems along Central and in the Downtown core (DAN, 5/24/21) has concluded its second weekend. So we're curious: Do you think it's working? Fill out our very short survey here and the results may inform a future article and/or a discussion we'll be having soon with APD's Valley Area Commander Josh Brown.

Word of mouth helps DAN grow
If you know someone who might like Downtown Albuquerque News, feel free to forward them an issue or two.

Downtown Albuquerque News covers greater Downtown, which we generally define as the area created by I-40, the Rio Grande, and the railroad tracks. We publish weekdays except for federal holidays. If someone forwarded DAN to you, please consider subscribing. To subscribe, contact us, submit a letter to the editor, or learn more about what we do, click here. If you ever run into technical trouble receiving DAN, click here.
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