Biz Buzz Edgewood: Developers speak out

Edgewood has recently seen a lot of economic activity, with senior apartments now under construction, a new branch of the Sandia Labs Federal Credit Union, expansion of Vista Larga Animal Hospital, and a hotel planned.

In addition to all of that activity, even area teenagers are getting involved, with a trio who made a pitch at a startup event for teens in Albuquerque recently, where they outlined their desire to create a drive-in movie theater between Edgewood and Moriarty.

Vista Larga held an open house last weekend to celebrate its new space, and next weekend the credit union will do the same. The animal hospital—and the new facility is just that, a fully appointed hospital, with surgery rooms, oxygen, isolation areas, pharmacy, X-ray and more—is owned by Vickie Averhoff, a veterinarian and new business owner. She said in an interview Saturday that she bought the old Zoo Animal Hospital five years ago. The new facility doubles the square footage of that location to 3,500 square feet.

In the time since, the practice has doubled from grossing $600,000 a year to $1.2 million, with five veterinarians on staff, and at least two on hand most of the time. “I have more autonomy—I can do what I want,” Averhoff said. “I make the policy, so I can decide what gets done and what doesn’t. And I really like helping people, I like helping animals and making things work. … We do what we can to help people and try and take care of the animals.”

The practice added employees before moving to its new building and expects to add a few more, Averhoff said.

One feature of her new space that Averhoff is especially pleased about is a special room, away from the noise and bustle of the lobby, used when an animal has to be euthanized. It is a small room, with a couch, and an exit to the outside.

“I love days when we never have to come in here, but when we do need it it’s great to have it.”

Near the Edgewood Senior Center, and right next door to the two Bee Hive Homes, 13 senior apartments, both one- and two-bedroom, are now under construction by Markley Enterprises, the same company that put in the assisted living facilities.

Robin Markley said that the total investment in the three facilities has been more than $4 million, although she did not have the figure for the apartment complex alone.

The Markleys employ about 25 people, she said.

The new apartments are for people 55 and older, and the complex will include a doctor’s clinic by New Mexico Medical, formerly McLeod, and a new office for Tricorp Labs.

Apartments rents will start at $1,000 for the one-bedroom, Markley said, and include a one-car garage and all appliances. Maintenance will be handled by Markley Enterprises, she said, projecting that they will be ready to occupy the beginning of April.

“It’s something that’s very needed up here in our community,” she said. “We’re trying to make a nice little area for seniors, where they can be together, be in safe housing and not have to worry about maintenance.”

The new branch of SLFCU is 6,550 square feet, and replaces the tiny space the credit union formerly occupied on N.M. 344.

Julie Bassett, Edgewood Branch Manager, said, “This will be the only freestanding full-service financial institution with a drive-up in Edgewood. And because people who receive their electricity from the Central New Mexico Electric Cooperative or water from the Entranosa Water & Wastewater Association are eligible to join SLFCU, most residents will now also have the opportunity for convenient financial services close to home.”

The credit union will be holding an open house Feb. 6 from 10 a.m. to noon, with refreshments and a ribbon cutting.

Moriarty hotelier Scott McCall is planning to build a hotel in Edgewood, behind Tractor Supply and Mail & Copy.

McCall told the Edgewood town council recently that he intends to build a four-story Comfort Inn, which would include an indoor swimming pool, breakfast facilities, a lobby with a fireplace—at a cost of some $6 million.

He said the project would generate 22 jobs and inject $35 million into the community in the next five years, numbers that he attributed to the state’s economic development department.

In an interview Tuesday, he said that a groundbreaking is being planned for mid-February and he hopes to digging footings in March, with the hotel ready for occupants by the end of the year if all goes well.

McCall said that a feasibility study done by Edgewood helped “lure” him to build a hotel in his home town. “To their tribute, spending that money made me look at Edgewood much more deeply than I would have if I didn’t have the feasibility study to use.”

He also praised an economic development committee of the Edgewood Chamber of Commerce for its work.

Another positive step Edgewood took, he said, was enacting a process to allow a developer to pay up front for large costs like infrastructure, then recouping that cost over time, out of gross receipts tax.

The “last hurdle,” McCall said, will be approval by the fire marshal. “He can’t give an opinion until we have a full set of plans for a building permit,” he said.

McCall said Edgewood has a “chicken or the egg” problem because chain restaurants want to see a hotel before they locate in an area, and hotels want to see chain restaurants. “I think Denny’s kind of broke that open,” he said.

Because Edgewood has only one freeway exit, signage is especially important for a business like a hotel “because if they miss the exit, once they pass Edgewood, you probably lost them.”

New Mexico Medical, formerly McLeod Medical, changed hands recently as well, but no one from McLeod returned The Independent’s calls for comment.

And lastly, a trio of teenagers recently pitched their idea for a drive-in movie between Edgewood and Moriarty at a business start-up event for teens at Albuquerque’s Epicenter.

Three seniors at Moriarty High School, Wyatt Jurish, Jefferson Dunley and Tyler Graves pitched their idea at a business development event for teenagers.

Jurish called it “an entrepreneurial kind of a class,” where he and his colleagues went “to learn about business and how to start one up.”

Their idea is for a drive-in movie between Edgewood and Moriarty. There are plenty of obstacles, including property, money to build a drive-in, and whether the idea is viable.

With only a few drive-ins left in the nation, The Independent asked Jurish why he thought their idea would succeed. “We got asked that question,” he said, adding that they thought the idea was good because there isn’t enough to do in rural areas.

Jurish said that if they group finds a way to proceed, that new technology could be used, offsetting some costs. He gave as an example streaming audio for a movie through smart phones rather than a speaker box.

“Pretty much all you need is a screen and a projector,” Jurish said, acknowledging that their pitch got “mixed responses.”

The pitch was a team effort, he said. “Without Tyler Graves or Jefferson Dulaney this idea would have never gotten anywhere.”

Jurish said he wants to start a business because getting a job is “too mainstream,” adding, “I wanted to do something different, something rare. … I always dreamed of starting my own business.”

Asked if he plans to settle in the area, Jurish said he is “really planning to stay around awhile, and see it grow and flourish. … I really like the idea of helping the local economy—it really helped me.”