LL named fastest growing city

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The village Los Lunas is the fastest growing city in the state, according to a list of urban growth compiled by the University of New Mexico Bureau of Business and Economic Research.

The information was gathered from the U.S. Census Bureau, city websites and the New Mexico Municipal League, and covered the years 1960 to the present. The list of the state’s top growing cities appeared in the Nov. 4-10 New Mexico Business Weekly.

“It shows that we are growing, healthy and attractive,” said Ralph Mims, the village’s economic development manager. “People want to live here.”

The benefits for the village in being named No. 1 in commercial and residential growth include an enhanced position to be awarded federal, state and private grants and loans.

Being No. 1 is also an economic development recruitment tool, said Mims.

“There’s a magic down here,” he said. “There is a reason why we’re growing so much. We’re close to the Albuquerque metropolitan area, but we’re not in Albuquerque.

“We’re a small enough city that if you want the rural, small town feel, you don’t have to be in the big city … One of the things that is very attractive about Los Lunas is we’re separated by the Isleta reservation, so you don’t have urban sprawl.”

The village is in a position to take on further economic and residential “smart growth,” reasonable growth in certain areas such as around the transportation center and lands west of Interstate 25. Much of the infrastructure is already in

place, making it very attractive to businesses and developers.

The village has about 1,600 acres of developable land, said Christina Ainsworth, community development director.

There’s plenty of room for growth, both residential and economic. Mims said the village needs to have more attractions for residents and visitors such as a dinner theater, more restaurants, a place for outdoor concerts, adult nightlife as well as more retail stores. He’d like people to come to Los Lunas the way they go to Santa Fe for cultural events and entertainment.

“Keep everything in the community,” Mims said. “If you keep everybody in the community, they’ll spend their money in the community instead of the money leaking out and going to Albuquerque.”

At the same time, the village is proactive in maintaining its small town, rural charm and historic character.

Ainsworth and the community development department are working with other village departments to develop a land use plan as part of the overall comprehensive plan. The land use plan will offer specific guidelines for the village

council to guide its decisions in the future, Ainsworth said.

It is an integral component of the master plan, which is currently being updated and refined. The master plan is expected to be completed in another 12 months.

Currently, Mims has begun the process of apply for grants and other funding to compliment the $400,000 awarded to the village by the state Department of Transportation. The award is for an interchange beautification project.

“It’s for community pride,” Mims said. “You feel pride that you live here, and it creates a draw for prospective business you want to bring here.”

The project will cover Main Street, Route 66 and I-25, and gather community input in public meetings early next year.

“So, we’re looking at beautification enhancement in line with the community branding,”

Mims said. “Once we have our theme from the community branding, we can incorporate it in our design of the streetscape and of the improvements.

“We have identified a design architect who will design it, and we’ll be working with Molzen-Corbin, they’ll do the site engineering,” he said.

The preliminary design is slated to be completed by late spring of 2012.

“We want to do something very good and pleasing,” Mims said. “It’s our front door …

When you’re looking at a prospective client, industry, manufacturer to come in, you want something pleasing to the eye when they come in.”

The village has also been awarded to host the Rural Economic and Development forum in the spring of 2013, which will bring city managers, economic development managers and directors from around the state for three days of conferences to be held at the University of New Mexico-Valencia Campus.

“What that is about is looking at various economic development ideas and issues that affect New Mexico,” Mims said. “What it means to the village of Los Lunas, we’ll get between 150 and 200 people coming into the village, staying overnight in our hotels, eating at our restaurants, and spending money in our community


-- Email the author at dfox@news-bulletin.com.