- Associated Press - Sunday, September 17, 2017

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - A Native American-owned plaza in Albuquerque is about to expand with a popular restaurant.

Indian Pueblos Marketing, Inc., the development group tasked with redeveloping the 46-acre (186,155 square meter) parcel near the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, is nearing completion of phase one of a project designed to breathe new life into the area, the Albuquerque Journal reports (https://goo.gl/yhTZwF ).

And the Albuquerque plaza that boasts the state’s largest freestanding Starbucks will soon be home to the city’s first Laguna Burger.

Avanyu Plaza began with the first tribally owned freestanding Starbucks in the nation, which opened in 2015. The marketing agency has almost completed a 6,000-square-foot (557-square-meter) building to the north that will house Laguna Burger and another tenant that has not been disclosed.

The popular burger joint has four locations at or near the pueblo west of Albuquerque. It has had double-digit growth in profits over each of the last few years, said Skip Sayer, chief of sales and marketing for Laguna Development Corp.

“It’s been phenomenally popular,” Sayer said. “This is one area we’ve been thinking about for a while now, and when the opportunity came up (to move into Avanyu Plaza) we felt it was perfect.”

Laguna Burger will open in early November with a 3,000-square-foot (278-square-meter) interior and an outdoor patio that together will seat roughly 150 customers, Sayer said.

One goal of Avanyu Plaza is to employ Native Americans, according to a news release. Sayer said that is a goal Laguna Burger believes in, and the company is happy to help meet it.

Another aim for the Avanyu development is to develop the land according to the “pueblo aesthetic,” hosting dozens of “enterprises, including office and commercial tenants. a conference center, lodging, retail, dining, and security operations,” according to the news release.

The plaza will be built in three phases. The second phase, to begin early next year, will involve construction of a large plaza to the north of the new building that will act as a community gathering place with art, music and events.

Indian Pueblos Marketing, Inc. is also tasked with infrastructure construction. The development of the land coincides with the city’s 12th Street and Menaul Great Streets Improvement Project. The city is working with the marketing group to improve roads, increase lighting, beautify the area and make the intersection more pedestrian friendly.

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Information from: Albuquerque Journal, https://www.abqjournal.com

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