Levitated owner: ‘We can decide what Albuquerque will look like’

Courtesy Albuquerque Business First.

By Damon Scott

November 21, 2014

Don't count Laurie Tarbell as down on Downtown Albuquerque. She knows there is work to be done, but she's optimistic.

Tarbell, chair of Albuquerque's 2030 District exploratory committee, joined Mayor Richard Berry and Architecture 2030 founder Edward Mazria during a Global Entrepreneurship Week ABQ event on Nov. 20 at the Hyatt Regency.

The subject was Albuquerque's designation as an emerging 2030 District — a program that engages building-sector stakeholders in the public and private sector to sign on to voluntary carbon-emission goals. Tarbell is the local leader and thinks Downtown is the logical first step in drawing district boundaries.

"The benefits of an established district are enormous," Tarbell said. "It is a geographical boundary that creates a sense of place. Why Downtown? It's important because it identifies the location as a beacon. A location for effective resource practices and economic investments."

Tarbell uses her Levitated Toy Factory, located in a former Albuquerque Publishing Co. building at 700 Silver Ave. SW, as a case owner. She is the co-owner of the business with her husband and Etsy.com co-founder Jared Tarbell. " We took an old cold, dark, uninsulated 20th century building into a bright, energy-positive, creative high-tech facility," she said. "It was representational of a lot of buildings in Downtown — their heyday has passed and many are no longer relevant. We see this not as a problem, but an opportunity."

The Tarbells also own the 26,000-square-foot Occidental Life building at 301 Gold. St. SW and have plans to bring it up to 2030 standards. Gary Goodman's Hotel Andaluz was one of the first Downtown properties to sign on to the 2030 program.

"Andaluz greatly inspires me. It is a great example of bringing buildings into the future," said Tarbell. The Andaluz was extensively renovated from its former La Posada de Albuquerque identity into a hotel that has won many environmental awards.

Tarbell said it's time to ramp up elevating Downtown's building stock and transform and revitalize existing structures and infill empty spaces. "What city do you want to see in 2030? We can decide what Albuquerque will look like, and it starts now with actions," she said. "Downtown can be an invigorated urban place that attracts talent from across New Mexico and the country."

Next for Tarbell and the exploratory committee will be signing on more property owners and establishing a board of directors and charter.

(Original article can be found at http://www.bizjournals.com/albuquerque/news/2014/11/21/levitated-owner-we-can-decide-what-albuquerque.html)