Mayor Keller signs off on Menaul redevelopment plan

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Mayor Tim Keller recently signed new legislation to revamp a stretch of Menaul Boulevard and bring midtown Albuquerque back to life.

For many business owners in the area – laden with wooden boards replacing storefronts and holes in the sides of buildings – it couldn’t come soon enough.

Owners and employees say the area wasn’t always like this. It was once vibrant and safe.

“The pianos that we have total here probably several $100,000 in retail value,” said Michael Kitt, an employee at 88 Keys.

88 Keys is one of only two piano shops in all of New Mexico. They say they’ve been broken into three times in just the past couple of years.

Instead, they play a different tune these days. They’re open by appointment only and leave the doors closed almost all day.

“100% of the reason is criminality. Then, the number two problem around here is drug use,” Kitt claims, saying the 88 Keys parking lot used to be riddled with needles.

Now, it’s something else.

“What we do see is foil. That is from the fentanyl. That’s the drug of choice nowadays and that makes the people absolutely crazy,” Kitt said.

The Range Cafe experienced 10 burglaries in the last few years before its owners called it quits.

That cafe was the backdrop Monday for Mayor Tim Keller’s speech on the Menaul Metropolitan Redevelopment Area Plan.

“We went up to the state Legislature and passed a law that sort of triples down on the amount of financial incentives that people can get. It allows them to draw sort of more tax revenue to use for development,” Mayor Keller explained.

The plan includes redeveloping hotels and motels into housing, adding electric vehicle charging stations and even a visitor center.

The goal is to bring the area back to what it once was.

“This is the most powerful tool the City of Albuquerque has for development,” the mayor stated.

It’s unclear how long it will take for the plan to start having an impact.

Although, Kitt is looking forward to any sort of improvement.

“We were at rock bottom and the only way we can go is upward,” Kitt said.