• Will a 'Space Valley Center' come to the core, and what would happen there if it did?
  • The core really is more dangerous at night, analysis shows
  • Letter of recommendation: The Walk Albuquerque Instagram feed
Will a 'Space Valley Center' come to the core, and what would happen there if it did?
New Mexico has long been known for its upward-looking bent, and thanks to a new proposal awaiting possible federal funding, it may result in an unusual new office building at Third and Marquette. Donald Giannatti
The Downtown core economic scene has traditionally been dominated by hospitality, retail, government, conventions, banking, and a random array of private sector offices. But if a coalition of public agencies - including the city - gets its way, it will soon play host to a major new facility dedicated to something very different: space.

The Space Valley Coalition is a partnership that includes CNM, Spaceport America, and groups like the New Mexico International Trade Alliance. Last year, it applied for a federal grant, potentially worth up to $100 million, to bolster facilities at the Spaceport, expand Q-Station, a Nob Hill business incubator focused on aerospace, and inject venture capital into regional space-related startups. It passed the first round of federal scrutiny in late 2021, which eliminated 469 other applicants. Among the 60 that made the cut, some 20-30 grants will be awarded later this year.

Also tucked into that proposal is something called the Space Valley Center, an office and conference facility that the city would like to see located in the parking lot just north of Civic Plaza.

"This is going to be a laboratory, it's going to be a startup incubator and a collaboration space that will be a singular game-changer for our state's economy," Mayor Tim Keller told an audience gathered at the Rail Yards for his recent state-of-the-city address.

But what sort of space-related stuff would actually happen there all day? Organizers are counting on at least some of New Mexico's 130-or-so aerospace companies - plus university programs - to move there or at least establish some presence in the building, making for a sort of co-working space where both new and established companies can feed off of each other. 

"For existing companies, you are in a center of like-practice," CNM spokesman Brad Moore told DAN. "The exchange of ideas is powerful. It would also help attract new businesses to the location."

The coalition also believes that the center would be the perfect place for space-related conferences, such as this one recently held at Hotel Albuquerque, so the design is factoring in large events for up to 750 participants.

Office and convention space is hardly in short supply, particularly at the corner of Third and Marquette, but this building would feature some expensive equipment that does not come standard in other Downtown core offices, including a thermal vacuum chamber for testing satellites, and a 3D metal printer, Moore said.

Parts of the building are also expected to be constructed to the standards of a sensitive compartmented information facility (SCIF), a building security protocol designed to shield high-security communications or information from prying eyes and ears. SCIFs are commonly used at foreign embassies, military bases, and at intelligence organizations. The White House situation room is itself a SCIF, and temporary facilities are routinely set up wherever the president travels.

With the project's fate still being decided by the feds, the actual design of the Space Valley Center building is not finalized, but Moore said to expect "multiple floors" with "the capacity to scale larger."

What to do with the lot north of Civic Plaza has long vexed city officials. Former Mayor Richard Berry promoted the idea of building a new skyscraper there, but Keller, who took office in 2017, was more lukewarm on the idea.
The core really is more dangerous at night, analysis shows
From December 2021 to April of 2022, APD discovered or received reports of 119 assaults within a quarter-mile radius of Fifth and Central. Nearly 60 percent of them came in between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m.

The pattern includes more minor disturbing the peace incidents, just over 60 percent of which came in during that 12-hour nighttime block. Some 79 percent of reports of shootings, 53 percent of burglaries, and 87 percent of DUIs also happened in that period, according to the five-month analysis conducted by Downtown Albuquerque News. 

Night is not the only factor to consider either, said Scott Norris, who until a recent promotion was the top APD official in the Valley Area Command, a district that includes Greater Downtown. The day of the week is another big one.

"We get an influx of thousands of people over the whole weekend," he said. "You're going to see those numbers rise. The probabilities of it are going to go higher. And then, obviously, add alcohol to the mix."

Here's how things look in that Fifth and Central area by day of the week:
Vehicle theft is often a crime of opportunity, Norris said, and weekend activities in the core mean that people may not be watching their cars as closely. "There's a lot of opportunities there," he said.

Sunday in particular was a busy day for vehicle theft, but Norris suspects that has less to do with the traditional cruise that happens most evenings on that day and more to do with the fact that Saturday night effectively stretches into the wee hours of Sunday.
Add alcohol the mix of late-night activities, and DUIs also spike. In the five-month period measured, there were more on Sundays than all weekdays combined.
Vandalism is a problem with Sunday nights in particular, Norris said. Doing burnouts, for instance, can kick up rocks and break windows. "It's still vandalism, regardless of the intent," he said.

Why the rates are even higher on Monday and Tuesday is less clear, though one possibility is that it takes time for some weekend vandalism to be discovered and reported.
Disturbing the peace reports also go up as the weekend draws near, peaking on Sundays, when any calls about cruise night combine with incidents that are really a holdover from Saturday night.
But to be sure, not everything fits the pattern. Wednesday is the most common day for reports of theft, a figure that Norris said he'd need to drill down on to understand more. Theft also flipped the time-of-day pattern in our analysis: Just three of the 20 incidents reported over the five-month period happened between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. Auto burglary and auto theft were also less common at night, with just 38 and 39 percent of the incidents, respectively.
Letter of recommendation: The Walk Albuquerque Instagram feed
Top to bottom: The Bottger Mansion in Old Town (San Felipe and Central), the sculptures of Joe Sackett (Fruit between Keleher and Luna - DAN, 1/14/20), and an 1899 brick home (Second and Iron - Barelas) were all recent subjects of the feed.
Back in Ohio a few years ago, Danny Korman co-wrote a book called "Walking Cincinnati," which included 32 tours of historic neighborhoods there, complete with compelling pictures. So he was primed for the business.

But when he moved to the Downtown Neighborhoods last year, he checked around and found that Albuquerque was actually in pretty good shape on the walking book front, thanks in part to Wells Park resident David Ryan, the author who also organizes the annual Jane's Walks (DAN, 5/5/22).

Still, the allure of walking around and somehow documenting it proved to be strong, and the result is Walk Albuquerque, an Instagram feed that prowls around some of the more interesting neighborhoods in town, a category that naturally includes quite a few in Greater Downtown. The photos are striking, and Korman provides plenty of background context in the post.

"I figured I would just go for it," he told DAN. "Just highlight what I found to be interesting about the city."

Sometimes, he notices things that strike his fancy. Other times, he will seek out something in particular. His favorite areas include Silver Hill, Huning Highland, and Duranes.

"It's nice to share something that brings delight," he said.
Word of mouth helps DAN grow
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Downtown Albuquerque News covers Downtown, Old Town, and surrounding neighborhoods. 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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