Downtown Growers’ Market plans expansion

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The effort to beautify downtown Albuquerque continues – an abandoned building right on Central has been demolished.

But the demolition was only the first step. The plan is to use the open lot to expand the Downtown Growers’ Market.

Neighbors say they are relieved something is finally getting done with the Café Oaxaca building that has been causing problems for the last few years.

All that is left of Café Oaxaca is the sign.

“The walk-through traffic has gotten way more up even from a few years ago, they tear through the fence, sneak in the building,” Leah Martinez, a neighbor, said. “We witness all the drug trafficking there are constantly cop sirens here after sundown.”

Back in April, firefighters blocked off the intersection of 10th and Central when the abandoned building caught on fire. While AFR couldn’t say what started the fire at the time, neighbors suspect it was a homeless person trying to stay warm.

“They kept getting in there you know,” neighbor Bobby Sandoval said, “They’d throw their stuff out here, backpacks, and trash all around, a lot of homeless coming through here.”

The fenced-off parking lot caught the eye of the nearby Growers’ Market – which is planning on expanding.

The popular Saturday market has outgrown its current location at Robinson Park. Every week, the market hosts more than 200 vendors and serves nearly 3,000 customers.

The expansion is going to do more than just make room for more vendors – they plan on building a whole food campus.

“We need to design a food campus that bridges the gap between growers and consumers and communicates Albuquerque’s unique food system, amplifies local food options, and celebrates seasonal change,” Senior Architect Mayrah Udvardi said.

The move would make the Growers’ Market a year-round affair. The project will add more space for community activities and local food businesses, and even build classrooms for community cooking classes.

Neighbors say they can’t wait.

“We love the growers’ market, first of all, ’cause it’s walking distance, and if they could expand that I think it would be really great,” Martinez said.

“I think that would be good,” Sandoval said. “I go to the farmers’ market and support the locals they have good chile and stuff but I’d love to see it expand.”

Organizers are hoping to break ground by the end of 2023.