I think that any number of suites at the Gold Lofts, on the first floor, that are still empty, could be combined to create a sensibly-sized, premium full-service supermarket. We're talking organic and a meat counter, a pharmacy and an ATM.

A girl can dream, no?

This supermarket would service the now-struggling stream of up-and-comings, hip and/or professionals who bought into the downtown loft appeal when it was presented to us. It would service the daily population that finds themselves downtown for any number of reasons throughout the day (example: my son attends Lew Wallace Elementary school), as well as neighborhoods nearest downtown that can currently turn to Lowe's on Lomas and 12th or Stadium Market on Avenida Cesar Chavez and Broadway. It would be the last convenience stop before people hop on the Rail Runner, and a mercifully close emergency pit stop if one is already on the train and needs a life essential in a pinch. It would be a well-run, clean environment that appeals to the metro-conscious and eco-friendly.

Downtown needs a grocery store. Discuss.

Tags: albuquerque, albuqueruqe, business, downtown, economy, food, future, grocery, rail, runner, More…store

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It wouldn't be the first discussion on Duke City Fix about a downtown grocery store. I totally agree with you that downtown needs a grocer. Those spots seem logical to me, but I imagine investors would not expect there to be enough "traffic" to make them viable. The spaces are expensive, and they would probably say there is not enough clientele in the area to make it happen. To attract more customers they would need those people who come by car. I'm not sure if the parking situation would allow many car based customers. I'm not trying to rain on the dream, but I have spoken to some potential investors. Maybe when the new condos/lofts go up just to the south of Gold, there will be enough people---not sure.
There's a different kind of grocery store that might work: Aldi. (http://www.aldifoods.com) I've never been to one, but from what I understand, they stock one brand, one size of every product a typical grocery store carries. Imagine how much less space that would take up. No toilet paper department. No dog food aisle. Since they're deep discounters, they'd attract some bargain hunters from outside the downtown area. On top of that, all the people who live elsewhere but work downtown could stop by before or after their commute.
Another solution would be grocery delivery, which we should have anyway for the lazy, the sick, and all the retiring baby boomers we expect to move here.
I live downtown and prefer organic food, so we go searching for that. I am assuming most others in downtown fit our shopper profile. Relying on outside folks requires lots of parking. Its quite a conundrum.
Though this is a great idea, it economically doesn't make make sense due to the reasons listed by SteveJ.

That's why it has not yet been built.

At the same time, the benefits you list make a lot of sense. Having a facility with all of those attributes (fresh food, pharmacy, etc.) so close to the main Rail Runner station in the state would be awesome. And for this reason, maybe the city should subsidize a grocery store in this location.

Though this may seem like an out there idea, it would be a great thing for stimulating Downtown development. The city already throws away a lot of its money on crappy projects that nobody wants/ cares about, so how about injecting some taxpayer cash into a facility that could have a major benefit on one of the states biggest regional transit hubs?

On a side note, I hear they are thinking about building a CVS pharmacy on the corner of Broadway and Central. Though it would not be quite as good as a fresh food grocery store, this could be an important step towards getting basic services Downtown.
Wasn't there a Walgreen's with a pharmacy on 4th and Central way back when (ok, maybe it was 15 years ago). I know when we moved to Barelas we could walk to 2 full service pharmacies, but now none are in easy walking distance.

Until we get a grocery store, what about continuing the downtown growers market year round - is that a possibility? I know some local farmers are using greenhouses and many crops (Swiss chard,for one) grow year round here. It doesn't address the issue of picking up something quick that Senorita Ruth has raised, but it does help fill a need for those of us who would prefer not to drive to get our food.
Yeah, I'm really over this "sorry, no-can-do" mentality.

It's insanely convenient to list all the cons and obstacles without looking closely at what would it need to be to viable. We need to shift the paradigm that dictates what we consider normal or doable. So it can't be the Carlisle Smith's or the San Mateo Walmart. I'm okay with that. So it carries one size only (see Mary G's link) and maybe doesn't have your favorite Febreeze scent.

Can I buy a banana and the morning snack for my kid's class? What if I need a pair of replacement panty-hose before my afternoon appointments in the court house? The incidence of life in the downtown area is high, and the immediate posts of rescue are few and far between. Somehow, though, we all want and hope that people will shell over hundreds of thousands of dollars in "prime" real estate; we want to be thought of as a burgeoning class and economy, a comfortable outpost in the unfriendly desert. I find it difficult to believe that we haven't thought ourselves out of the box on this one.

Ideas:

1. Create an agreement with another, established grocery for specialties like bread and meat. Have a set amount ordered and delivered daily. When it's gone, it's gone.

2. Offer delivery services to the surrounding area. Let's not forget the home-ridden and those who in good conscience don't own a car.

3. Not every venture has to come out like gangbusters and defy all investor dreams. Business has taken an ugly turn for a profit margin bottom line that precludes the societal and long-term and long-ranging benefits of something that maybe has less of an immediate ROI.

Downtown needs a grocery store and I'll be happy to say "I told you so" when it finally comes.
I would love for you to tell my I told you so! I would love to have a grocery store downtown! I've suggested a cooperative in other blogs. Not the one that already exists in Albuquerque, but another that draws together members who want a grocery store downtown. As cottonwood says below, this topic has been discussed many many times on DCF!
I'll second the Gene (Gene Grant, I assume) sentiment. Go here for what I would consider the end-all-be-all discussion on this topic. Pay particular attention to Gene's comments, he is one of the few people around here who sees downtown for what it is.
My position remains unchanged. In the country I come from, a neighborhood store isn't so much a corporate risk than a quotidian fact. Build the tiendita, and we will come.
This was promised to the DT neighborhoods when Albuquerque High School was turned into "lofts", but it soon became apparent that while the neighborhood wanted a good-sized store (like a Smith's) for residents to shop at, the developer's idea was a little place WITH A LIQUOR DEPARTMENT. This isn't exactly what local people had in mind, since DT Central is already pretty much wall-to-wall bars plus many wandering drunks, and nobody hoping for a safe, legitimate street-scene down there (to help bring in more residents) wants to increase this blight by making it easier for drunks to pick up cheap wine in a bag and drink it in your back yard.

If residential density ever gets high enough to support a grocery *without* all that liquor income, we'll probably get one; but having put the new bus station downtown, with all the homeless service outfits and offices there as well, the City has pretty well guaranteed that an influx of taxpaying residents will be very hard to lure into the area. If you think that's just theory, look at what happened when Santa Fe moved its bus station out of the old city center: the street people no longer hang out where the tourists do, on the square.

That's one reason for the new apartments sitting empty downtown. Another is that the developers who put them up demand top dollar for "loft" accommodations, which are just boxy apartments cobbled up fresh and cheap, not actual solid old warehouse and factory buildings converted into living space (what a "loft" is in a coastal city like New York or San Francisco).

You can't get enough occupants to support a full-sized grocery store downtown without building attractive, solid, reasonably priced housing for families to live in, and making the streets feel safe for women and kids (this last factor is stated repeatedly in the studies provided to developers by firms paid to run up cheery, optimistic, progressive plans that will get projects approved, even if somehow the best parts of those plans don't ever materialize). That doesn't appear to be happening, so don't hold your breath waiting for a serious grocery store downtown.

That's my reading of a sad situation, and I have nothing but sympathy for all the good folks who work so hard trying to repair and restore Downtown. It's one devil of a struggle.
"the developer's idea was a little place WITH A LIQUOR DEPARTMENT. This isn't exactly what local people had in mind"

Unless of course, the store of course, the store is Trader Joe's!
Suzy, I think you sound like somebody who lives in the far northeast heights (or Rio Rancho). I live in downtown and really enjoy having the bus station here. I also think a small grocery store in east downtown could do quite well, with a liquor license.

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