Albuquerque is arguably the city with the greatest potential in all of America for growth, development and sustainable living. And there is one area of our city that is particularly suited to realize and sustain that potential: Mesa del Sol.
The master-planned community in Albuquerque’s southeast corner is now an area with active commercial and residential growth, active construction of new, modern homes, and incredible development progress (on the cusp of announcement).
Last May, a few of my business associates and I made a big financial and strategic decision to personally invest in the collective future of Albuquerque and ultimately guide the realization of a great vision for Albuquerque at Mesa del Sol. I’d like to walk you through how this spectacular district reborn from stagnated growth is now positioned for success with local interests at the heart of our mission to rise up, raise the bar and build a safe, smart and sustainable city for New Mexicans, by New Mexicans.
In 2002, Forest City Enterprises Inc., a Cleveland-based development firm, came to Albuquerque to build the massive 12,900-acre Mesa del Sol mixed-use, master-planned community that would ultimately contain 37,000 houses, and become the home to 100,000 people. At the time, I was excited to see an out-of-state developer importing these enormous capital investments into our economy. In my 24-year tenure as a local, New Mexico born-and-raised business owner, with offices extending into Colorado and Arizona, I’ve witnessed the growth and opportunity that markets such as these have experienced. I celebrated out-of-state dollars flowing back into my state. And 16 years after Forest City originally moved into New Mexico, local and combined efforts from both public and private resources will be the path to exalt Mesa del Sol and, ultimately, Albuquerque. Nothing is impossible for you, me and all of us.
I understand that all of this may seem like a lofty goal. Each time I evaluate our goals, I get that same feeling of angst that comes with any great challenge. The difference is that we have the courage to accept nothing but success – and we’ve already made great progress. With history in our rearview, it’s time to continue pressing forward and working together with our community leaders, local businesses, Mayor Tim Keller’s team, and the Albuquerque City Council.
This process began back in February of 2016 when we purchased the nearly 80,000-square-foot Aperture Center at Mesa del Sol, knowing this could be the perfect headquarters for a high-tech company. The following June, we purchased the previously-owned Schott Solar complex, which includes a 133,000-squarefoot building, a 60,000-square-foot building, and an adjacent 80 acres of commercially-zoned land. Most recently, we acquired the remaining master-planned acreage that included ready-to-develop residential and commercial land. With these properties now positioned to fit within the overarching Mesa del Sol vision, we’re ready to turn this marathon into a sprint.
The tangible dream for Mesa del Sol provides a unique, inclusive opportunity for all to be welcomed into a community that values the balance of personal and professional life. This development promises the serenity of open spaces while delivering on safety initiatives – all within a safe, smart and sustainable trinity. If you’ve ever visited Mesa del Sol on the first Thursday of any month, you’ll see on display the solid foundation of neighborly fellowship-bands, food trucks, community swimming-that we have to build upon. You’ll see an active neighborhood with parks and green spaces that allow families to flourish, celebrate life with one another, and remain accountable for the livelihood of the area.
Mesa del Sol has also become an active destination for city-wide events; In late September 2018, we hosted the glamorous Diner en Blanc and its 2,000-plus guests, all clad in white as they dined al fresco on the sprawling and beautiful lawn that fronts the Aperture Center. The Center also hosted the University of New Mexico Cinematic Arts Showcase last May, as well as the Girls on the Run 5K Run/Walk, a successful event that took place in the shared space this past March.
The safety of all citizens who live and work in the Mesa del Sol area is the highest priority. By implementing proven strategic interventions, we will prevent criminal activity, improve public safety, strengthen awareness, and improve relationships between law enforcement and the community. With the use of technology, smart devices and citizen reporting, a safe neighborhood networking solution can be developed, allowing for a collective approach to public safety. The introduction of smart environmental lighting, asset tracking, video surveillance and emergency response programs will stand to enforce this position of strength towards safety.
To become a smart and efficient community, we will implement microgrid technology that connects people, information and technology to improve quality of life, education, innovation, and information access. This all begins with smart infrastructure related to commercial, residential and shared resource development, irrigation systems, highest speed internet access, roads and public transportation with full integration into existing city transportation, as well as smart transport within Mesa del Sol.
With environmental sustainability and resource preservation at the core of our development choices, we’ll approach Mesa del Sol planning using a method called geodesign. In this practice, we can responsibly manage natural resources while considering the future impact of population growth in the area-and the carbon footprint we’ll leave behind for future generations. This community is better positioned to provide citizens a sustainable future that won’t compromise the land, water or air quality essential to our lives. Other priorities in the progression of Mesa del Sol are energy generation from solar and wind power, shared garden space, and smart waste and water management. We are planning for additional large green spaces, as well as walk/biking trails that will interconnect different areas of the community.
Integral to the sustainability initiative is the conservation of our greatest resource: the people of New Mexico. Great strides will be made to foster premium education at Mesa del Sol, through local schools that will receive additional financial support from funds generated through area improvements that provides long-term income. Available and accessible housing consists of a healthy mix of single-family residences, corporate housing and multi-unit structures, as well as low-income housing. Our residential community at Mesa del Sol fosters inclusion and acceptance of all walks of life and is designed to self-support and sustain the quality of life we all deserve. Over the next 18 months, we are planning unprecedented strides toward introducing more high-paying employment opportunities. Data centers, tech campuses and new warehousing will be constructed to sustain research and emerging technology companies and provide for the addition of more manufacturing opportunities. Through these efforts, we can retain local talent, and support improved career paths for students from our state universities.
Both yesterday and today, the location of Mesa del Sol fights public perception of being miles away from everything. Take a drive out to Mesa del Sol on any evening to not only enjoy the promise of a spectacular, mesa-top sunset, but to experience how quickly you’ll arrive. Commute traffic here is arguably the lightest in the city -and there’s no river to cross to get to downtown. I know we’ve all experienced the frustration of traveling over our city’s bridges in rush hour traffic at least once in our lives (and for some it’s a daily occurrence). Mesa del Sol as a home base alleviates that daily frustration, and the location is close to primary destinations – only five minutes from the Albuquerque International Sunport, 10 minutes from Downtown, and 13 minutes from Uptown.
Without a shadow of a doubt, I know that Albuquerque and the State of New Mexico are destined for greatness. We are moving forward, working together and achieving great things. Yes, we still have work to do. Yes, some obstacles are harder than others. Yes, we can do this.
We are strong. We are #NMTrue. And we will realize this vision of greatness at Mesa del Sol that will elevate to the next level not only the city of Albuquerque, but also the State of New Mexico. It’s time to resurrect the challenge at Mesa del Sol, and shine our light for all the nation to see.
– Steven B. Chavez, Managing Partner, MDS Investments