New Mexico State University is working on a new commercial development project that may bring new retail space including some new restaurants to Las Cruces.
Called Aggie Uptown, the new development will be located along University Avenue just east of I-25 on a 36-acre parcel that was leased to Aggie Development, Inc. by the NMSU Board of Regents about two years ago. Aggie Development, Inc., is the nonprofit that manages the university’s real estate holdings.
The project began when NMSU sold a different tract of land. The proceeds from that transaction are being used to fund the preliminary work for Aggie Uptown.
According to Scott Eschenbrenner, the president of Aggie Development, Inc., the idea for Aggie Uptown came from a board that included then chancellor Garrey Carruthers, two NMSU regents, the university CFO, as well as four private citizens.
Eschenbrenner says the biggest challenge to the project is infrastructure. The land being used for the project doesn’t have any water, sewer or natural gas, so the challenge now is extending these services to the undeveloped land, which requires redesigning certain roadway intersections.
Telshor Avenue will extend south into the property, where crews will need to re-do traffic lights. Another challenge is getting end users to commit to buying the property now while the infrastructure is still being built.
“There’s always been inquiries,” Eschenbrenner said, “but when [end users] are ready to inquire about putting something in they probably want to do it today. You may have an end user that wants to come in with a restaurant. Whatever that restaurant idea is, he’s looking in Las Cruces and trying to figure out ‘where do I wanna locate?’ Well obviously this has always been a prime spot because of its proximity to the university and easy access off the interstates. But with nothing there, they’re ready to do something today. They’re not ready to do something two or three years down the line.”
The board is already negotiating with some end users that cannot be named because the deals haven’t been closed yet, but prospective clients include a retirement community developer and a retail developer.
The infrastructure phase of the project is expected to be completed in January of 2020. Once the land is fully developed, the project reportedly will generate as much as $500,000 annually in rental income for the university.