A date for the renovation and upgrading of the 80 year-old former First Baptist Church at the corner of Central Avenue and Broadway Boulevard NE in downtown Albuquerque may be drawing near.
Earlier this summer the University of New Mexico’s board of regents approved a move to take back the ownership of the downtown property that is now the home of the ambitious and expansive Innovate ABQ complex.
That 7-acre site was originally purchased some 6 years ago by the university and then turned over for Innovate ABQ’s varied facility development projects.
To date, work at the site has seen the construction of a Lobo Rainforest Building, which went up in 2017, as well as creation of a 13,000 community center belonging to Central New Mexico Community College, among other projects.
Now plans are underway for repurposing the First Baptist Church structure, which measures around 71,000 square feet, a project that will be spearheaded by the Lobo Development Corporation, UNM’s real estate arm, and the school’s economic development and technology transfer office, UNM Rainforest Innovations.
Evolving plans for the church building have included doing away with a two-story addition to the structure, and replacing it with a tower that would house office space and have a height of 5 stories.
The oldest part of the church, according to original and existing plans, would be preserved but upgraded and used for administrative offices, with the spacious interior 400-seat chapel space given over for meetings, among other purposes.
According to reports, at least $8 million has been secured for work on the church building, but it is thought that a comprehensive demolition of the structure’s 1970s-era addition and subsequent replacement construction, could have a price tag nearly three times that amount.
By Garry Boulard
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