ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – One of the main entrances into Albuquerque’s Old Town is now padlocked.
Some shop owners think their competitors did it to re-route traffic to their own shops.
Anyone who parks at the Albuquerque Museum used to be able to walk through an archway, through another private parking lot, and into all the shops in Old Town.
Now, you have to walk down to the shops at Plaza Hacienda, instead.
Some people suspect that’s the whole point because the owners of Plaza Hacienda also own that lot.
“With that barrier there – it looks like all of Old Town is closed,” said Johnny Salas, owner of Santisima Art Gallery. “I think maybe they want a lot more business going their way – but what’s going on – it’s affecting all of Old Town.”
“It kind of has everybody in an uproar because this is one of the main arteries that feeds into Old Town,” said Liliana Rondon, owner of Liliana Jewelry & Boutique.
The manager of Plaza Hacienda says the change is all about safety – saying bikes, mopeds and wheelchairs were heading through the gateway and right into a busy parking lot.
“It’s just a safety concern. With having one of the biggest parking lots here, we wanted to redirect people to more appropriate avenues to come into Plaza Hacienda, where we already have handicap accessible entries,” said Plaza Hacienda manager Blake DuPree.
As for not talking with the rest of Old Town about the change, he points out that what Plaza Hacienda does with its own property is nobody else’s business.
“This is private property, and the private property over there is the other plaza, Poco a Poco,” he said.
Some shop owners aren’t buying it.
“I feel like it’s an attack on the merchants in here, each and every one of us – it’s an attack on our livelihood,” said Contessa Chavez, owner of Lucky Buffalo.
The uproar from shop owners comes less than two weeks before Balloon Fiesta – Old Town’s busiest time of year.