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Three Developers Competing to Build an Arena with
 Connecting Hotel in Downtown Albuquerque
By Jim Ludwick, Albuquerque Journal, N.M.McClatchy-Tribune Business News

Nov. 14, 2006 - Developers competing to build an arena in Downtown Albuquerque are suggesting a hotel, shops, residential units, possible participation by the University of New Mexico, and differing notions about the location of the project.

Their ideas are described in documents that were submitted after the city sought proposals centering on land along Central near the Convention Center.

Five proposals were submitted by the deadline last week. Two were from firms that simply asked to be considered for design contracts, but three proposals came from teams offering details about what could be built and how city government could help.

An evaluation committee will review the proposals and report to Mayor Martin Chavez. The mayor will then go to the City Council with his thoughts about how to proceed, setting the stage for one of the major discussions facing the council in the coming year.

Here's the gist of the three proposals that described potential projects in detail:

A 16,000-seat arena, along with a hotel and other features, was described by a development team including Garfield Traub Development LLC, Flintridge Partners and Hunt Development Group.

The project would include retail space, residential lofts and a public plaza.

There would be a 420-room hotel with a spa, gym, ballroom and underground parking.

Sixty residential units would be offered for sale or rent. Retail space would be offered to small tenants, and a restaurant.

The arena would be developed as a publicly owned facility, under an entity that would be created to design, build, own and operate the arena. SMG, which operates the Convention Center, would provide management services.

The project would depend on bonds issued by the city, to be repaid using arena income, a surcharge on business activity at the arena, gross-receipts taxes and other sources.

A 12,000-seat arena and a 22-story hotel were proposed by a team headed by Faulkner USA Inc.

The floor of the arena would be 15 feet below grade, to provide retail shop space at street level along the sides of the arena facing Second and Central.

The hotel would have 450 rooms and suites. There would be two floors of restaurants and shops, an indoor pool, a fitness center and 30,000 square feet of meeting space.

An entity would be created by the city to own and finance the development through the issuance of tax-exempt revenue bonds.

The team proposing the idea would enter into development and management contracts to build and manage the project.

Possibilities for arenas of either 10,000 or 19,000 seats were suggested by a team including developers Concord Eastridge Inc., International Facilities Group and Renaissance Development Co. Inc.

The proposal says a 10,000-seat arena could be built on land at Second and Central, the location favored so far by the city.

However, it recommends an alternative: building the arena on a site next door, extending to Broadway. That could allow a seating capacity of 19,000, sufficient for the arena to be the location of University of New Mexico basketball games, the proposal says.

Adjacent space would be available for the development of retailing, offices, a hotel, residential units and entertainment.

Arena funding would involve the issuance of bonds secured by arena revenue, a surcharge on business activity at the arena, gross-receipts taxes and other sources. UNM could participate financially.

The proposal says the city could explore changing state law to increase the tax on lodging. It could also consider a temporary or permanent increase in gross-receipts taxes.

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Copyright (c) 2006, Albuquerque Journal, N.M.

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