From a real estate perspective, Innovate ABQ is all about site work. What buildings will stay or be demolished at the site on the northwest corner of Central Avenue and Broadway. How architects and planners propose to transform the former First Baptist Church site into incubator labs or residential units. And what users from retail stores to restaurants will open in the project.
But Jessica Eaves Mathews, a member of Innovate ABQ’s board and founder and CEO of Leverage Legal Group, said the highly anticipated Innovate ABQ is not just a real estate development. And Innovate ABQ is not just for techies, as has been assumed by the public.
Business First asked Mathews to explain what the project is all about, who it’s for and what’s next in the site’s development process.
Describe how the real estate aspect of Innovate ABQ is supposed to encourage innovation.
In short, Innovate ABQ will be a work-live-play mixed-use community for entrepreneurs, bringing together talented, driven people, assembled in close quarters, who exchange ideas and knowledge in a way that advances innovation, builds businesses and bolsters a stronger, more inclusive economy in Albuquerque and New Mexico. Work-live-play communities such as Innovate ABQ attract entrepreneurial talent, capital and business activity.
It seems Innovate ABQ is focused on tech startups and research. Who else can use or move into Innovate ABQ in the future?
It will be a place for all entrepreneurial ideas and innovation, and it will be open to everyone, not just UNM students or the tech or science community. I care about this because my work involves supporting women entrepreneurs, who often launch other types of companies than tech, especially consumer products, food-based businesses and service-based companies. Some may have a tech component, such as an app or online presence, but most would not consider themselves tech founders. And I also look to the food and beverage entrepreneurial communities that are springing up around Albuquerque and the state — we will have a place for them on the site also to help them launch and grow their ideas, including everything from food trucks and food manufacturers, to bakeries and restaurants, to breweries and distilleries.
The board chose the development team Dekker/Perich/Sabatini, Goodman Realty Group and Signet Development to develop the site. Where are they at in the process and what else is the board working on?
The Signet group is in active due diligence activities currently, and we expect to have a proposal on the first phase site plan from them by November or December.
As for the CEO search… We have stopped taking any new applicants as we have a very strong pool of applicants whom we are moving forward to the next stage of the interview process. There is a mix of both [in-state and out-of-state applicants]. While we want someone with ties to or a passion for Albuquerque and New Mexico, we also want the right person for the job. So we extended our search to a national level.
We deliberately do not have a deadline for [hiring], as having the right person to lead this ambitious effort is critical to the success of the project.
By: Stephanie Guzman (Albuquerque Business First)
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