Station Area Plans

Station Area Planning & Development


Market Evaluation

In January, 2008, Economic & Planning Systems, Inc. was hired to conduct pdf the New Mexico Rail Runner Express Transit Oriented Development Market Evaluation 2.73 Mb.  This evaluation addresses the market potentials for commercial, residential, and mixed use development in each station area.

To better understand these opportunities and the role of Transit Oriented Development (TOD) in the region, the Market Evaluation examined some central questions:  

  • Housing has a regional market.  What do the demographic and economic trends for the region tell us about TOD opportunities?
  • Recognizing the existing built environment, what is the likelihood area residents would purchase housing and commercial building in the TOD style?
  • Each community is unique.  How do each community's vision, development activity, and residential market conditions shape the potential for TOD?
  • Balancing national and local analysis, what is the residential and commercial demand in each station area?

Local Lessons for Transit Oriented Development

The built environment in Albuquerque, as in many western U.S. cities, is typified by single family-detached homes and automobile-oriented commercial development.  At a time when we are experiencing increased road congestion, commute times, travel costs, and a renewed interest in walkable communities, the introduction of commuter rail service presents new opportunities.  Recent local experience with mixed-use development offers the following insights to help guide TOD development in the greater Albuquerque region:

  • The Albuquerque Area is at a tipping point concerning attached housing.  While the overall pool of projects is small, the number of projects and units is picking up.
  • Price is a fundamental driver.  Ideally, a project target is a weighted average between $180,000 and $200,000 per unit. 
  • Density is important.  Generally, units can be delivered at lower prices in higher density developments.
  • Unit size must be controlled to keep low prices. Over-sizing and over-pricing units has been a major factor contributing to slow sales rates of earlier projects.
  • Design must be compelling and it appears that projects with a regional flavor do best. 
  • The most important unit amenity appears to be private open space. 
  • Area amenities - such as a coffee shops, delis, and grocery stores and entertainment venues -- will help buyers trade-off single family living for an attached home.

Summary of Market Evaluation Findings

The following points summarize the Market Evaluation's findings of residential and commercial development potentials for four station areas along the Rail Runner corridor.  Findings are grouped for the communities of Bernalillo (2 stations), Los Lunas, and the South Valley. 

  • The economic context of the Albuquerque region is strong and will generate robust demand for new residential units and commercial uses.
  • There has been, historically, very limited market demand for higher density residential development in the Albuquerque Area.  However, trends suggest that specific products geared to transit oriented development will be viable in the near term if priced right and designed well.
  • The development of a master plan for each station area is essential to synthesize the community vision and provide direction to developers. 
  • Specific sites within the station area are better positioned for redevelopment than others, based on market factors. 
  • Strong partnerships between the public and private sectors are vital to successful station area development.  There are responsibilities for both that should be addressed to implement the master plans effectively.
  • There are opportunities that will foster TOD growth within each community.  There are also constraints that must be addressed.

Specific market evaluation findings for each of the communities are below.


The two Bernalillo stations are positioned to become concentrated nodes of mixed-use development that generate a regional draw.

Factors impacting the market for TOD in the Downtown Bernalillo and Sandoval County / US 550 station areas -- both positively and negatively - include:

  • Market Readiness -- Interviews with developers of condominiums and townhomes suggest that Bernalillo is ripe for TOD in the near term. 
  • Multiple Markets -- Bernalillo's location between Santa Fe, Albuquerque and Rio Rancho places it in an ideal spot to appeal to buyers from multiple markets. 
  • Historic Character and Authenticity -- As new developments provide walkable town centers, few will be able to compete with an authentic town center with truly historic structures. 
  • Neighboring Expenditure Potential --The right design of new mixed-use development will enable Bernalillo businesses to capture retail expenditures from the communities to the east and west, which traditionally have not patronized Town businesses.
  • Land Supply and Parcel Size -- Some larger parcels are available, but land assemblage of small lots will be necessary.  There are few sites for medium- to large-scale builders to further the current momentum. 
  • Connectivity -- Pedestrian and bicycle paths that connect a series of properties to the stations will help offer the opportunities created by the Rail Runner to a broad section of the community. 
  • Constraints -- Limited land supply, property aggregation, the resistance for businesses to leave the US 550 corridor, and the shift to higher density development are challenges that will need to be addressed.

Los Lunas

The Los Lunas development potentials are geared towards residential in the near term, while support for commercial uses is expected to grow over time. 

Factors impacting the market for TOD in the Los Lunas station area -- both positively and negatively - include:

  • Expanding Market Conditions -- One of the most evident features of the Los Lunas market is its accelerated expansion over the past three years.  Local residents and Albuquerque commuters have found it to be a good investment and have increased demand to new levels.  Retail development has responded to the growth in rooftops.  A submarket with high growth is generally conducive for niche projects, such as TOD.
  • Land Supply -- Los Lunas offers parcels of significant size under single ownership within the station area.  The challenges associated with land aggregation may be less of an issue.
  • Inadequate Infrastructure -- Infrastructure and traffic problems must be addressed to facilitate development.  Problems with traffic are paramount in Los Lunas around the intersection of Highway 6 and Highway 314.
  • Market Capture East of I-25 -- The market is booming adjacent to the I-25 corridor with conventional commercial and residential development.  The challenge is to capture some of this activity in the station area.
  • Daytime Population Dilemma -- The low daytime population of Los Lunas is a restraint to the existence of more retail in the area of the station.  There are modest contingents of commuters in the morning and evening, but unlikely to support more retail in itself.
  • Local Perception -- Past attempts at townhouses have not absorbed so well, but were arguably not done at the "right" time. 
  • Latent Demand --   Many Valencia County residents will be looking for a smaller house in retirement and do not want to leave the vicinity of Los Lunas.  This population is ideally matched for a higher density neighborhood such as what is possible around the Los Lunas station.

South Valley

The Bernalillo County / International Sunport station is located in Albuquerque's South Valley.  Research indicates that the station area has substantial development potential. Factors impacting the market for TOD in the South Valley -- both positively and negatively - include:

  • Environmental Concerns -- Some of the sites have been contaminated by industrial uses, which up to now have been a major factor in discouraging development. 
  • Land Availability -- There is a large supply of vacant land - much of it is under a single ownership -- in the station area.  Without demolition costs or aggregation challenges, development becomes more viable.
  • Changing Development Context -- The South Valley subarea now has a southern anchor, Mesa del Sol, which provides high quality housing and employment.  Because of Mesa del Sol, this area will be no longer be perceived as the periphery of the community.
  • North Valley Example -- Developers with a long-term local track record compare this setting to the North Valley/Journal Center and suggest that a similar evolution is possible. 
  • Active Developer Interest -- Developer interest in station area parcels has recently increased, and proposals include high-end residential homes, intensive mixed-use, and hotel, office, and flex-space uses. 
  • Employment -- The South Valley is a regional employment center with approximately 21,400 jobs in the vicinity of the station area. 
  • Industrial Land Uses -- Environmental contamination and unsightly uses will diminish market demand.  As land values rise, the potential for redevelopment increases though the trend for industrial uses continues.
  • Strong Visibility and Traffic Counts -- The adjacent roadways of Rio Bravo and Broadway carry major traffic levels.  The proximity to I-25 helps generate drive-by traffic.  The visibility of the site from these roads increases market support for commercial uses.
  • Accessibility -- Creating a network of pedestrian routes and/or roads to link development sites to the station will be difficult but important to leverage the benefits of transit.



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