Businesses along stretch of Central name their area ‘West Downtown’

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Most stops along Central Avenue, also known as Route 66, have a name. Some well known spots include Nob Hill, downtown and the university area.

But, a stretch of Central Avenue just past downtown recently experienced a bit of an identity crisis.

“Is it downtown, is it Old Town… what is the name of it?” said Len Romano, co-owner of Ripe Inc.

When Albuquerque Rapid Transit construction began, many businesses in the area just past Central started holding weekly meetings at Vinaigrette.

“Leaving their egos at the door, and want to collaborate and make improvements and enhancements in this area,” Romano said.

Romano owns a branding and graphic design company located in that same stretch of downtown. He said one of the main focuses during those community meetings was to rename their portion of Central, from 10th Street to San Pasquale.

Romano said the businesses all pitched in different names. “West Downtown” was the winner.

“We see this as kind of an extension of downtown, it’s only a few blocks to the west,” Romano said.

Romano said an ART spokesperson was in attendance at the meeting where the vote was taken, and they also decided to change the name of an ART bus stop at Central and 15th Street. He said within 10 minutes, the city approved the bus stop name change to “West Downtown.”

Ripe Inc. has even created a logo for their newly identified area. It shows an arrow pointing to the left and beside it, the outline of two buildings from the Albuquerque skyline.

Businesses in the area say with so much growth happening in the city, and specifically their neighborhood, they needed a name.

“This gives us our own identity, so people can find the community and love the community as much as all of us do,” said Karen Gasparich, office manager at Duran’s Central Pharmacy.

Other business owners and staff in the area say they’re glad to be a part of an effort to bring change to their neighborhood.

“If anything, we’ve come to learn, we’re stronger together and we’ve developed something that I think is going to go beyond the project that’s existing, with the construction,” said Kristina Vincenty, general manager at Five Star Burger.

Hoping to turn trying times, into an outlook for the future.

“This is our way of being creative and positive about the situation,” Romano said.

The group of businesses is also planning “West Downtown Wednesdays.” Each business will provide specials, whether it be a food special, or a unique discount at their store.

Other events they’re pushing for include two annual runs, and one bike ride, to begin and end in West Downtown.

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