The 4th Street Revitalization of the Village of Los Ranchos transformed the corridor into an economic and civic hub for this small municipality in Bernalillo County’s North Valley. The project includes both master planning and design of this Route 66 remnant. The former two-lane street without pedestrian facilities is now a right-of-way composed of roadways, utility poles, primarily asphalt with undefined parking and no pedestrian or biking improvements. Local residents, merchants and visitors will benefit as this thoroughfare transforms into the neighborhood spine—a complete street with restaurants, commerce, sidewalks, landscaping, and civic spaces. The project focused on strategies that could promote the commercial revitalization of the businesses in the corridor while encouraging a mixed land use pattern. Sites Southwest identified areas with the highest commercial potential through a market study which included surveys of businesses and residents and created a land use plan and catalytic project zones to encourage development in those nodes. Outside the commercial nodes, the revitalization strategy recommends mixed uses. The plan provided information regarding community demographics and retail expenditure potential as well as background information on local businesses. Following the conclusion of master planning efforts, the project team moved on to the total redesign of the corridor.
Alpine Lumber Company Site Redevelopment Plan
The City of Gallup owns a 3.2-acre industrial site adjacent to the BNSF rail line just north of downtown. City policy for the Gallup Arts and Cultural District/MainStreet area is redevelopment of the properties north of the rail line to better support downtown goals. Sites Southwest was charged with assessing potential redevelopment concepts. Sites Southwest facilitated three workshops with a Community Working Group to generate development ideas, package the ideas into workable redevelopment scenarios, and assess the feasibility of each. A review of case studies of similar projects in other communities helped frame the scenarios and identify strategies for ownership, financing, and management, with a goal to support the local arts community and small businesses while creating a destination for Gallup residents, visitors and the regional market for retail and services.
Carrizozo MRA Plan
The Town of Carrizozo began a Downtown Master Planning and Redevelopment process in order to improve economic conditions, increase tourism, and assist in the rehabilitation of properties along NM 54 and 12th Street. This plan expanded on work completed as part of the Historic Carrizozo Revitalization Plan, which was completed in 2015 as part of the Frontier Communities Initiative of NM MainStreet. The new plan expanded on previous project ideas and provided additional strategies for the Town to implement in order to encourage future redevelopment.
Through interactive workshops and small group discussions, Sites Southwest included residents in the planning process. A project website also contained information about meetings and draft documents. The website was especially helpful for residents who wanted to participate but were unable to attend meetings.
Sites Southwest created 15 downtown project ideas, including streetscape improvements, a district wayfinding system, the creation of an outdoor performance space, free wi-fi downtown, facade upgrades, a community trail system, affordable housing, and marketing and economic development strategies. Community members were invited to participate in interactive visioning and mapping exercises to develop project ideas as part of this plan.
Las Cruces Downtown
Sites Southwest was commissioned by the City of Las Cruces and the Downtown Partnership to develop a vision and revitalization strategy for the downtown area. The redevelopment strategy included plans for a new civic plaza and government office buildings, as well as attracting specialty retailers and service providers and enhancing downtown’s role as a cultural and arts center. According to the vision, capital improvements included a new city hall, a new Federal Courthouse, and a new main street. The new Main Street features special paving in areas that can be closed off for special events. Permanent shading elements adjacent to the new plaza will allow it to be easily transformed into a pedestrian-friendly environment for major public events.
Graphic visual simulations concepts were used as part of the design process to help community members and policymakers envision the downtown of the future. Sites Southwest also collaborated with LCDT and the City on legislative and other funding strategies.
In partnership with Civic Plan Studio, the team led a planning and urban design team in preparing the master plan for the 150-acre East Lohman Site, a city and privately owned property on the east side of Las Cruces. Following a market study, the plan envisions a mixed-use community that is pedestrian-oriented and environmentally sensitive, with neighborhood centers that complement existing land uses. The plan also included strategies for urban design and development implementation. This plan was especially significant because it included a collaboration with city stakeholders and a community engagement process that engaged the public and helped shape the Development Plan. The Plan was enthusiastically approved by both government and residents.
The public engagement process was designed to hear from all stakeholders. Design workshops, public meetings to review planning studies, and final public hearings were also attended by key stakeholders and residents. Following the initial discussions, we developed three alternative plans, each with a distinct programmatic focus and urban structure. Each scenario included a variety of creative pedestrian-oriented and urban design concepts. The final development plan was approved, resulting in a plan that benefited from our close working relationships with City, NMSU staff, and MountainView Medical Center staff, residents, elected officials, real estate professionals, and business leadership. We also created an implementation plan and a set of recommendations that will allow the city to maintain its role as master developer while collaborating with local developers to execute projects that are consistent with the Plan’s vision.
Sites Southwest has completed a designation report and MRA plan for a 2.5 mile stretch of Sudderth Drive in Ruidoso, New Mexico. This commercial corridor includes Ruidoso’s iconic Midtown District as well as gateway areas east and west of Midtown. This corridor is the economic lifeblood of the Village. The corridor is primarily commercial, with retail, services, lodging and office along its length. Goals for redevelopment include expanding allowable uses through zoning ordinance revisions, utilizing Village owned properties to support housing and economic development, and improving the physical appearance of the corridor through streetscape improvements and addressing vacant and deteriorating buildings and sites. Pedestrian improvements are also proposed. Most public meetings have been held virtually because of restrictions on in-person events. The MRA plan contains goals for land use policy that will foster the economic growth of the Village. The zoning code update is the opportunity to incorporate these goals into Village policy.
Sites Southwest worked with the City of Tucumcari and New Mexico MainStreet to develop economic and physical revitalization strategies, projects and policies within the defined Metropolitan Redevelopment/Downtown Area. The MRA plan developed upon the vision and goals developed during previous downtown planning efforts for the City, and provided additional strategies to leverage existing assets, involve key stakeholders, enhance local strengths, provide realistic and implementable strategies, and match projects to funding sources for implementation. The vision for the plan was to provide Tucumcari with a downtown area that is a, “unique, thriving business and cultural center where local residents and visitors alike consider it a destination point for shopping, dining and entertainment.” The vision supports a larger goal for economic and physical development desired by the City. The planning process included an analysis of existing economic and physical issues, including existing businesses and tax revenue, zoning and land use, physical structure inventory, and transportation. Key issues include physical and economic signs of blight, deteriorating buildings and public infrastructure, and a need to focus on tourism and business development. Project ideas include building rehabilitation, façade improvements, business development, housing and streetscape improvements. The plan was adopted by the City Commission in 2017.
University Area MRA
The neighborhood south of the University of New Mexico has struggled to retain retail businesses and long-term residents. The intent of the plan is to identify public and private sector projects to improve the economic health of the area. The City’s goal is to establish a stakeholder group to continue beyond the planning process and oversee area improvements. The plan engaged businesses, residents, property owners, developers, and representatives of the area’s major institutions to develop the plan and form the implementation group.
Sites Southwest used past plans and area conditions to assess the needs and priorities of a designation area. Resulting strategies and incentives included financial and technical assistance for local business owners, redevelopment incentives for appropriate development projects, and streetscape beautification strategies.
The plan is in the adoption process, and the Metropolitan Redevelopment Agency staff is supporting the stakeholder group in its first year.