UNM buys old downtown church for 'Innovate ABQ'

Updated: 07/11/2014 10:41 AM | Created: 07/11/2014 9:35 AM
By: Nikki Ibarra, KOB Eyewitness News 4

The University of New Mexico on Friday finalized a purchase that aims to help tech startups get established and help existing businesses grow.

UNM will spend around $7 million dollars to buy the old First Baptist Church and set up a project called "Innovate ABQ".

The building will be a space where high-tech businesses can have the resources to start up and grow.

"It's really encouraging that this project has gone from an idea to a land purchase in only 18 months," UNM President Robert Frank said in a statement. "It speaks to the power of partnerships and what we can do when the public and private sectors work together in an effort to benefit all."

Dirt on the property actually threatened to hold up what will be Innovate ABQ. Soil 30 feet below is contaminated with diesel fuel because it was built on an old Santa Fe railroad fueling station.

The contamination led to a lot of negotiation with the railroad about cleaning up the site if there is a problem.

But UNM does not believe there will be a problem since the fuel is so deep underground.

With the soil issue out of the way, UNM has been working to tie up other loose ends, like agreements and contracts, to get the project going.

Innovate ABQ is expected to be up and running in a couple of years.

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