Tuesday, April 11, 2006


Wanted: Retailers for Rio Rancho residents By Abby Roedel New Mexico Business Weekly Updated: 8:00 p.m. ET April 9, 2006 It's hard to believe that a town with a population of more than 70,000 people still does not have a Starbucks -- but you only have to look to Rio Rancho to find such a place. What's more, there is no furniture store, no men's or women's clothing store, not even an electronics store. To put it mildly, the community northwest of Albuquerque needs retail to support all of those new residential rooftops. Because of the dearth of shops doing business there, Rio Rancho has the lowest per-capita gross receipts tax base of any city in New Mexico with a population of 5,000 or more, says Jim Palenick, Rio Rancho's city manager. That statistic is particularly striking, considering that Rio Rancho's average household income of about $66,000 per year is one of the highest in the state. "Rio Rancho is bringing great wealth to other communities in the state and now it's time to bring it into our community," adds Palenick. He might be getting his wish, as the city is finally getting some new retail developments. One of the newest retail centers slated for the city is a 17,000-square-foot center at the southwest corner of Golf Course and 11th Avenue called Golf Course Plaza. The developer, David Soule, expects to start construction within the next six months. A second phase will include about 12,000 square feet of additional office space. Eric Schoen of Eric Schoen & Associates is the leasing agent for the property. "I'd like to help keep jobs and services close to where people live and cut down on some of the traffic," says Soule, whose land development company, Rio Grande Engineering, will occupy one of the office spaces at Golf Course Plaza. The Cabezon community, located near Golf Course Plaza, had 1,105 homes as of March 2006, according Jan DeMaggio, owner of DataTraq, which tracks new housing starts in the Albuquerque metro area. Although there are no signed leases to date, Soule would like the new plaza to have a real neighborhood feel, with tenants such as a coffee shop and a hair or nail salon. Rates are expected to start at $13.50 on a triple net lease. While any new retail in Rio Rancho is a positive, Palenick still would like to see more projects come online in the central and northern parts of the city, where most of the new homes are going up. The Northern Meadows community, for example, has 3,200 households and doesn't have a single grocery store or gas station in the immediate vicinity, says Palenick. Last year, there were 3,084 permits issued for new homes in Rio Rancho, adding more than 8,000 residents. And that number is only expected to increase in 2006. The city of Rio Rancho recognizes the trend and has taken the imbalance between rooftops and retail into its own hands with its plans for a new city center and arena -- a $100 million investment that will give the city some of the stores and restaurants that its residents crave. The arena is expected to open in the fall and a new city hall will then follow in June 2007. And Palenick anticipates that four years from now, a good portion of the downtown core will be fully developed. But, even then, he thinks the retail in the city still will be playing a significant game of catch-up. © 2006 URL:
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