Updated: January 24, 2021 10:14 PM
Created: January 24, 2021 09:45 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A local developer is betting big on Downtown Albuquerque rebounding from the pandemic.
Mark Baker recently opened the Downtown food hall 505 Central toward the end of 2020. Inside the food hall, Baker also owns Moonwalk Brewery and Distillery.
Baker said business has been pretty good so far—and with the possibility of alcohol delivery coming online, and Bernalillo County inching toward reopening indoor dining—he said there’s a lot of optimism.
"505 Central is all about celebrating local. So what a better way to do it right here on the premise. So, we're brewing and distilling in the basement of this building,” he said.
Baker also started other Albuquerque staples like Humble Coffee.
"So, we've seen a transition over the three years that I've been down here where it's become safer and more family friendly and that's our goal,” he said.
"It's nice bringing this building back to life with this new energy,” he added.
Baker’s long term vision is to help revitalize Downtown.
"So, for me, I recognize that there's this density and this desire from the younger crowd to move back into the city, cut the commute out and live and work Downtown,” he said.
He said the apartments he operates above the food hall are already full, and believes Downtown will only become a more desirable part of town.
"We're really looking forward to taking the training wheels off and running this thing at 100%,” he said.
Last week, Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller said he thinks Albuquerque could have indoor dining back by March, but only if the positivity rate drops below 5%.
Keller estimated Bernalillo County would be at 7% by Jan. 18, and said following the public health order and getting tested will be the quickest way to loosen state restrictions.
"As a business owner, I don't want to get my hopes up and I have to be patient,” Baker said.
Despite the wait, Baker said he’s optimistic.
"Yeah, I'm beyond hopeful, I'm actually fairly positive Downtown is going to grow and revitalize, like other downtowns,” he said. "We want people coming down from the Heights, or from Rio Rancho, or the Westside, South Valley. We want them to be able to come Downtown, bring their families, go out for dinner and drinks, see a show and experience something a little bit different."
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