ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – On a buzzing stretch of Lomas Boulevard, a new shop is hoping drivers will stop and smell the roast.
Newly-opened Humble Coffee Company, along with other businesses near Lomas and Washington, are trying to make a name for themselves in an area drivers often speed by.
“This felt like a nucleus waiting to happen,” said Mark Baker, Humble Coffee’s owner.
It’s a nucleus with a bit of an identity issue.
“We’re not quite in Nob Hill and we’re not quite in another neighborhood,” Baker said. “It doesn’t have a name, nobody knows quite what to call it. Is it the Lomas corridor? Is it NoLo (north of Lomas)?”
A mile east on Lomas, another neighborhood with a similar struggle thinks it has a solution. It’s a stretch of San Pedro between Lomas and I-40 that has been struggling with empty storefronts. To revitalize it, the city is pushing to rename it.
That area will now be known as the Mile Hi district.
It’s not just a name change. City plans for the area include re-striping the road to narrow it from four lanes to three lanes. Bike lanes will also be added along with landscaping and new signage. Change could be visible in the neighborhood as soon as this fall.
“It’s exciting to see people step up, take pride in where they’re at and where they live, where they work. Identify themselves and create a destination,” said Gilbert Montano, Mayor R.J. Berry’s chief of staff. “I think a name can make a total difference.”
And there have been a lot of new ones lately. An industrial park east of I-25 has been re-branded as the Brewery District. An area near Broadway and Central is being established as the city’s Innovation District.
“Just because you name it doesn’t mean they will come,” said Tom Garrity with The Garrity Group, a prominent Albuquerque PR firm. “Slapping a name on a place will definitely label it, but it won’t necessarily mean everyone will know what it means.”
Garrity says good branding can take time. Albuquerque’s Nob Hill, for instance, has been working on establishing its brand since the 1930’s. Changing a name will only work if the experiences in that neighborhood change too.
Albuquerque’s most notable re-brand in recent years was the county commission and state’s decision to name a part of southeast Albuquerque the International District in 2009. That area had previously been nicknamed the “War Zone.”