Neighbors question Sawmill District development plan

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — City approval is one thing, but neighborhood approval is a whole other beast when you’re talking about new development projects.

Neighbors in the Sawmill land trust neighborhood proved that Thursday night when they brought concerns to Heritage Hotels Group leaders about approved plans for new development in the Sawmill District. 

“You guys come in and you build your buildings and you get rich on all of this and where do we go?” asked one resident.

“The Sawmill Market? I don’t go there because it’s too expensive. What we need around here is a grocery store — a place to buy food we can go cook ourselves,” commented another. “These are my concerns that this is a gentrification project basically.”

Others didn’t hold back about the possibility of gentrification. 

“What you’re doing is pushing out all the people that live around here. Everybody that lives in here behind the Sawmill area, they are disgusted with all of this what you’re doing,” one neighbor said. 

Heritage Hotels founder Jim Long laid out future traffic solutions and underlined other benefits of the multi-million dollar project.

“How we address the traffic situation is we need to work together that’s a really important thing,” said Long.

He explained the new projects have self-contained parking. There’s also $12 million coming from the state for local road improvements. 

Leaders also plan to push the city to execute traffic plans around the Rio Grande/I-40 interchange. 

“With Hotel Chaco, with Hotel Albuquerque, with these two new buildings, this is going to have more people walking around which will naturally slow down people driving because there’s going to be people on the street,” said another leader with the hotel group. “And that’s what we want.”

As of now, the plans for all three new buildings are approved, and construction is scheduled to start on the first one next spring.