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Market Walk ready for next step

A long-term project for the city of Roswell and MainStreet Roswell is to create a community market and event space near downtown. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

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Efforts to revitalize an older part of the city are progressing, with the city being asked to allow MainStreet Roswell to seek a company to develop construction documents for a new project.

MainStreet Roswell received a $100,000 grant from New Mexico Main Street and the New Mexico Economic Development Department in late November after submitting a grant proposal to the New Mexico Main Street Capital Outlay Public Infrastructure Program. The city is acting as the fiscal agent for the funding.

The grant, and $20,000 in matching funds from the city, will cover the cost of preparing construction documents as a first step in creating the Market Walk as part of the railroad district near downtown.

The Market Walk is envisioned as an area for a community market, an event venue and a parking area with pedestrian and walking pathways that connect to other areas of the city, including nearby businesses and the International UFO Museum and Research Center.

“This project will be catalytic in transforming the railroad district into a vibrant area, creating a more walkable community, and will support businesses and properties owned by current anchor tenants, as well as attract new investors,” a MainStreet Roswell document indicates.

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The intended boundaries of the project are about South Virginia to South Grand Avenue from west to east, and about East Second and East Walnut streets from north to south.

Some of the Market Walk area is just outside the existing Railroad District Metropolitan Redevelopment Area and the existing MainStreet Roswell boundaries. But Kathy Lay, MainStreet Roswell executive director, said the hope is that the City Council will agree at some point in the future to expand both the MRA and the MainStreet Roswell district to include all of the Market Walk area, which will increase opportunities for construction funding.

Metropolitan Redevelopment Areas are recognized by state statute as a way to encourage economic revitalization. MRAs allow for public-private partnerships, including easing some of the “anti-donation” restrictions that prohibit governments from using their funds to assist non-governmental entities.

On Thursday morning, the Roswell City Council Finance Committee approved MainStreet Roswell’s request to proceed with construction documents. If the City Council approves the resolution at its March 12 meeting, then a Request for Proposals will be issued to find a company to prepare the construction documents. Those documents give design and engineering specifications for the project, among other information.

Lay said the hope is that construction documents will be done by the end of the year so they can be used to obtain funding for the actual construction work.

She said she couldn’t estimate until the construction documents are prepared what the costs of the entire project might be.

“We are really grateful that the city is willing to work with us on seeing this part of the city redeveloped,” Lay said, “and for supporting this project.”

She said the hope is that the Market Walk project will be completed within five years.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.