ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – DowntownABQ MainStreet has big plans in store for this Earth Day and they could benefit you. It’s rolling out several initiatives- in partnership with SMG- Wednesday, that promise to revitalize the city’s core and make it a more interesting place to be.
The mayor told KRQE News 13 his administration has spent three to five times more on environmental and sustainability projects than any before. He says it’s a return on investment. Similarly, while they’re privately funded, Mayor Berry says he expects to see big returns on projects like the bike share program and “Civic Plaza Presents”.
“I look out my office sometimes, for the last couple of years and you’ll see a big blank piece of concrete and there’s great events there occasionally but we want more things there,” said Mayor RJ Berry.
Mayor Berry says downtown is growing. He says a healthcare company is moving in across from Civic Plaza. It’s expected to bring between 600 to 800 employees. Mayor Berry also cites the innovation district as an area that’s luring more employees downtown. He says more people means more stuff to do and the need for more ways to do them.
It’s one reason why the he believes the Bike Share program- dubbed BICI- will be a good investment. It’s privately funded with help from PNM. Berry says we already have a bike friendly city but says this is a good opportunity to help people get around town easier.
He also touts the new “Civic Plaza Presents”, a program headed up by SMG, the same group that manages the newly renovated Albuquerque Convention Center. Berry says it’s an effort to bring more programming to the plaza, from family events and food festivals to live music.
“Civic Plaza is really the center of our city and we want it to be the center of activities for families and individuals,” said Berry.
You’ve seen the basketball hoops and the food trucks there on Tuesdays, but Mayor Berry says more needs to be done to make Civic Plaza the gathering place he thinks it could be.
Mayor Berry says he wants to transform the plaza organically by making it a place where people want to be.
Wednesday, DowntownABQ MainStreet will announce a grant from Southwest Airlines that aims to help the space. Albuquerque is one of six cities nationwide to receive the “Heart of the Community” grant. It will fund amenities like tables and chairs for the plaza, outdoor reading rooms and information kiosks, all things that will bring new life to the area.
Southwest says they will work with the community to figure out a clear vision and programming platform for the space.
“You make a place where people want to go, they feel welcome, where they feel safe and they will show up and do interesting things,” Mayor Berry said.
Southwest says placemaking is an up and coming movement that aims to serve as an engine for urban development, spurring sustainable healthy neighborhoods.
The event-filled day kicks off at 9 a.m. at Civic Plaza and lasts until 4 p.m. If you get there by 2 p.m. you can get a membership for the bike share program and a free helmet.