Albuquerque, NM Downtown 2010 Section Plan
Albuquerque, the largest city in New Mexico, struggled in the 1990s with a dismally vacant city center. Decentralization and sprawl has affected a number of downtowns across the nation; however, the City of Albuquerque's efforts to turn around that trend that has proven very successful, causing vacancy rates to drop and greatly increasing visits to the downtown core, bringing back life into the district.
In 1998, the city brought together business leaders to foster public/private partnerships and to develop an infill and redevelopment plan for the downtown area. Resulting from this meeting, the Downtown Action Team (DAT), a business leadership group, was formed to collaborate with the City of Albuquerque. Together they developed the Downtown 2010 Sector Plan, which was adopted in May of 2000 to supersede zoning code in the designated downtown district.
This revitalization plan put forth by the city drew from past failures to produce a plan focusing public and private efforts in the following ways:
- Planning with an emphasis on stakeholder group meeting in order to encourage private investment into downtown;
- Public investment in downtown to anchor further development downtown;
- Suspension of zoning in downtown Albuquerque;
- Development of an incentivized form-based code performance system outlining 21 specific building principals; and
- Establishment of multi-modal connectivity.
In the 2010 plan, well thought out public/private relationships to increase interest in an area act as the foundation for redevelopment and create a synergy ripe for a diverse market of developers and business people. Further, the city worked to outline the priorities for specific projects, placing those related to infill highest on the list. The redevelopment area was split into districts to help facilitate the appropriate placement of certain land uses. These planning steps made a daunting task more manageable and developers feel more certain about projects.
The Downtown 2010 Section Plan also addresses parking regulations and design to provide for a more pedestrian friendly downtown, and encourages use of other modes of transportation. Providing developers with parking guidelines at the onset of downtown construction gave the city an advantage in using the changes to minimize the impact to the pedestrian experience in downtown and transition from an automobile-scaled to a human-scaled environment.
The city goals defined by the Park-Once, Pedestrians-First initiative informed a number of the design standards found in the 2010 Downtown Sector Plan:
- Parking structures must add to the pedestrian experience by including primary level storefronts;
- Only "in-view" parking may be on street parking;
- In certain districts, surface parking is only allowed behind buildings;
- No minimum required parking in downtown; and
- At least 15 percent of ground area in parking lots must be landscaped.
The plan created a number of requirements to enhance the pedestrian experience such as human-scale architectural elements at street level and appropriately sized sidewalks. Further, many other transportation options have surfaced. New parking regulations coupled with a design component geared toward pedestrians provides a holistic approach that allows for and enjoyable experience visiting downtown, whether you are a one-time visitor or an employee traveling to work every day. Finally, the Downtown 2010 Sector Development Plan boundaries closely mirror those of the Downtown Metropolitan Redevelopment Area (MRA), allowing the City to provide added development incentives in the form of reduced fees and the potential for private-public partnerships.
It takes a multitude of efforts to truly encourage redevelopment, and Albuquerque's 2010 Sector Plan recognizes the complexity of attaining the goal of creating a more vibrant downtown. Since these initiatives have been successfully implemented, Albuquerque has continued to develop other best practices to impact the downtown and other neighborhoods through form-based code overlay districts and has identified new infill development zones. Socially and economically, the districts downtown are thriving.
Category: Urban Form
Issue: Infill Incentives
Community Type: Urban
Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico
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