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City wants new boundaries for economic districts

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Submitted Graphic The existing Railroad District Metropolitan Redevelopment Area is shown in yellow. The city wants to add the other two areas.

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

The boundaries of two specific economic development areas in the city of Roswell could be expanded to help with future revitalization.

Members of the Roswell City Council Finance Committee gave preliminary approval Tuesday morning to two resolutions to change the boundaries of the MainStreet Roswell area and the Railroad District Metropolitan Redevelopment Area.

The matters are due to be considered by the entire City Council at its April 9 meeting.

Community Development Manager Bill Morris said that the MainStreet Roswell changes are being requested as a result of a $100,000 grant that the organization received for the Market Walk project, planned to be built a bit south of the organization’s current boundaries around the downtown area.

The grant came from New Mexico Main Street and the New Mexico Economic Development Department. The city of Roswell has pledged $20,000 as well to the project, which would create landscaped walkways, an event venue, a community market and a parking lot.

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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. Most of the Market Walk would lie slightly to the east and west of existing MainStreet Roswell borders.

Morris said that New Mexico Main Street had pre-approved the changes and will ratify the city’s decisions.

“We had those discussions, and this actually comes at their direction to expand that area,” he said.

Kathy Lay, executive director of MainStreet Roswell, is planning for construction documents for the Market Walk project to be completed at the end of the year and for the entire project to be completed within five years.

She said that, in addition to including the new project within its organization’s district, the boundary changes mean that businesses and organizations located there will be considered stakeholders, which will allow them to receive some services such as business training courses for free. It also could make them eligible for grant funding.

The Railroad District Metropolitan Redevelopment Area was established in 2016. MRAs are recognized by the state as a way to encourage and incentivize public-private redevelopment efforts. Businesses or projects within MRAs are often eligible for legislative funding.

There are three different areas with the MRA, with the primary area in effect now being primarily from Virginia Avenue to Third Street from west to east and Eight and Second streets from north to south.

The proposed changes would incorporate the other two areas, one to the south to the Hondo River, and the other to 11th Street and the Spring River to the north. The district also would move to the west to Richardson Ave.

“Originally the theory was that we were going to try to keep the redevelopment area solely along the corridor of the BNSF (railroad tracks) area,” Morris said, “but I think there has been a recognition that we need some additional area to help draw those folks starting from Second Street, to be able to pull them over to the railroad district.”

Morris noted that that he also considered it advantageous for the MRA boundaries to overlap the MainStreet Roswell boundaries.

City Councilor Jacob Roebuck said he is aware of some private property owners in what would be the expanded MRA area who are trying to create new enterprises on vacant land.

“There isn’t piles of money unfortunately around for them to do things with, but they are certainly trying,” he said, “so whatever we can do to help them, I appreciate that.”

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.